Tag Archives: Brina Palencia

Nabari no Ou: The Emotional Dance of Ninjas

Does everybody remember that Ninjas vs. Pirates debate a few years ago? During that whole ordeal, I never took sides. But now that I’ve watched Nabari no Ou, I’ve decided I would definitely side with the Ninjas. In this anime of love (the… strange kind), betrayal, and apathy, Miharu Rokujou (Brina Palencia) must discover just what it means to be a ninja and follow the path. In a war of ancient ninjas and the pervasion of the modern world, the Shinobi of the old ways must fight for a future which still finds ninjas to be relevant. And this is decided through the power of the Shinrabansho.

Miharu is a 14 year old apathetic middle schooler, floating through life. One day, one of the teachers at his school attacks him from nowhere, throwing shiuriken and jumping from tree to tree. Not fully

Miharu and his wily ways...

understanding what’s going on or why this man was attacking him, Miharu is saved at the last minute by one of his other teachers, Tobari Kumohira (Eric Vale). Hearing the word Shinrabansho and not fully understanding, Miharu is thrown into a dreamlike state in which a “fairy” speaks to him about his inner power. Meanwhile, outside, Tobari-sensei seals this hidden power inside Miharu, protecting him for a time from himself.

With the conclusion of this night fight, Miharu is from now on protected by Tobari and two of his classmates, Kouichi Aizawa (Chris Burnett) and Raimei Shimizu (Kate Oxley). With their help and the guidance of the Fuuma village ninjas, Miharu and his friends must find the forbidden secret arts of each ninja clan and use them in order to extract or use Miharu’s Shinrabansho. With a surprising ending and quite a few turns or loyalty, this show really delves into what it means to trust and believe.

The power of the Shinrabansho!

I really liked the fluidity of the fight scenes and the use of ninja arts in this show. This is coming from someone who just recently got into Naruto, the slightly retarded, childish version of Nabari without a whole lot of plot. (Well, I like it though…) With every character skinny as a pole, it’s almost easy to believe the gymnast like moves of these stylishly dressed ninjas. I was a big fan of the fact that not every character in this show was a ninja though. Yes, it’s hard to think that Miharu never really fights (a hard thing for me to get over when it comes to protagonists), but he makes it for it with his wiles. What’s great is the samurais,  Raimei and her badass bro, Reiko Shimizu (J. Michael Tatum). He’s said to have killed every member of the Shimizu family, by himself, when he was very young. Can’t get more destructive than that.

As with most shounen I’ve been watching, there’s a focus on an overarching plot with little sections running throughout, resulting in the product of the ending. I’m not opposed to this structure, but, coming from a movie lover, it’s slightly difficult in getting over a show that doesn’t trudge ahead by sticking to one linear plot. But I digress. There are a bevy of interesting characters in this show that really stand out to me. I would say Yoite (Joel McDonald) is the strongest of the crew. In what seems to be an antagonist role, Yoite slowly becomes an emotional character that lots of other characters begin to put stock in. In the end, Yoite becomes somebody that changes the face of all those involved, whether they realize it or not. Shifting focus between characters is an interesting tactic in plots, and this was pulled off well.

The Fuuma clan, ready to fight.

I had problems with Miharu, and its mostly due to his apathetic nature. With characters like this, they seem to let things happen to them without truly doing anything themselves. To not connect with others or attempt to find any form of help/solace really frustrates me as a viewer. Those who don’t attempt to find help in others or really care about anything leaves them floating in a void. And this helps no one. In contrast to that, Tobari-sensei attempts at every corner to help Miharu and the other because of the sins of his past. His caring nature and fatherly approach are really pronounced and worth admiring. (Some people may not like him, but I find him to be likable.)

With a more artistic, flowing feel, I found Nobari no Ou to be a compelling and interesting take on what it means to be a shounen about the popular topic of ninjas. From a emotional standpoint, the focus on characters rather than action is commendable. The use of powers and ninja arts is almost poetic in their symbolism and stand out in comparison to the actual weapons used. Not a bad voice acting crew with a lot of notable names, it is a decent body of work. Enjoy the boy on boy love too! (Not exactly, but you’ll see what I mean.) 7.1 out of 10.

A little bit of that boy love for ya.


Darker Than Black: Badder Than Badass

Thinking back to the days in which I spent less than a week watching Darker than Black, I only have fond memories. As it was with Basilisk (another anime I’ve reviewed about individuals with unique powers) so it was with Darker than Black. The idea of the Contractors and their Payments is really what sold me on the show. In a “post-apocalyptic world” in which the stars have forsaken us in place of demigods on Earth, a world of humans and the mythic becomes meshed into one. With its ridiculous beginning with two normal humans chasing down a Contractor. In an instant, with the breaking of some fingers, the Contractor goes flying off into the sky with his ability to defy gravity and control it to his will. Tell me that isn’t something badass-worthy.

Basic plot of the show: So this mysterious gate appears in Tokyo that appears to hold some mystical powers that alters the face of the earth. In South America, a team of changed human beings prepare to take out what is known as Heaven’s Gate, its twin in Tokyo known as Hell’s Gate. In a gigantic explosion with no known explanation, Heaven’s Gate is destroyed and the pasts of those involved become altered. It is up to Hei (Jason Liebrecht) to discover his past in

Hie and his ladies.

connection to the other Contractors around him.

It is these other Contractors that hold the key to exactly what it means to live in this new world of powers and new discoveries. The art of astrology has become relevant again as the Japanese government uses it in order to keep tabs on the Contractors of Japan. With the denotations of mere letters and numbers, the true names of the Contractors are not known, leaving the government at the mercy of the superhuman beings. Hie and his team consisting of Yin (Brina Palencia) a lifeless doll and tracking system, Huang (John Swasey) the team organizer, and Mao (Kent Williams) a former Contractor, now cat, travel the streets of Tokyo, performing missions given by The Syndicate. Through these missions, Hie and the others begin to discover their role in the Gates and what has been going on the last 10 years.

Yin, one of the more interesting characters.

The structure of the show is quite interesting. Although a continuous plot for Hie is not really put into effect until the last 10 episodes or so, the suggestion of a tying plot is frequently referenced to. Most of the beginning of the show flows between the Japanese government and its agents and a private investigator, intermingling Hie and his teams story. On the government side, Misaki Kirihara (Kate Oxley) is the head of an investigation team within the Public Security Bureau. Although she holds importance over the others, her subordinates Yusuke Saito (Chris Sabat) and Yukata Kano (Todd Haberkorn) provide support and comic relief in their roles. But the true comedy of the show comes from Gai Kurasawa (Brandon Potter) and Kiko Kayanuma (Brittney Karbowski). These two own their own private detective agency that comically coincides with just exactly what’s happening with Hie and the Contractors. Whether it’s looking for a cat or collecting stories on the true stars, Brandon Potter relentlessly blunders through as Gai and leaves a hilarious path of turmoil in his path.

And credit needs to be given to the Contractors of the show. November 11 (Troy Baker) is a ridiculously cool Contractor in league with MI6 and the British Intelligence Agency. With his ability to create ice from water spontaneously, November 11 comes across as a suave Bond character with the help from Troy

What a Bond you are, Nov. 11.

Baker. Maki (Maxey Whitehead) is a troubled little boy in league with, well, I’d rather you watch and find out (the plot comes in at this point), with the ability to create explosions with his hands, not unlike Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist (my favorite character, mind you and something I am currently re-watching). His troubled past leaves him struggling to be somebody among the wrong people. And a bit of an unspoken badass in the show, Wei Zhijun (Robert McCollum) pays with his own blood in order to lay waste to whatever it touches.

Ahhh, the power of blood.

Now these are only a few in a long string of Contractors that all have great backstories and well developed episodes. With about 2-3 episodes per character interaction, this eats up a good majority of a show. I had wished for a bit more of a straight-ahead plot the whole way through, but it didn’t detract from how good the show is. The voice acting is decent to good and really carries a lot of the show with the emotional scenes that creep up. What really captures me in this show is the excitement of a new Contractor and discovering their power and Payment. (I only capitalize because of those words’ importance.) The show, I guess, is really character driven and that’s the true charm of the show. The dark (hint hint) elements of the show don’t overburden the show or push it into the overdramatic, which really balances out the quality and amount of material the show covers. I really enjoyed myself while watching this and would suggest this to anyone who likes a good crime thriller action anime/film. Enjoy! 8.8 out of 10!

What's hidden behind that mask?


Black Cat: A Bounty Hunter’s Delight

For starters, I really liked the way this anime started off. It’s been a while since I watched it (only a few weeks, don’t worry, it’s still hella fresh), but the first episode really stuck out to me. I love the way certain anime start off with no clues as to what’s going on and let’s you figure out at what poin that initial scene will come back into relevancy. This show did a great job with that. Bringing in a climatic scene to show off the fighting and style of the anime was a great diving off point. And then, as is shown, we are given a build up in the show.

So the basic plot, I guess, is that Train Heartnet (Jason Liebrecht) AKA, Black Cat is one of the all-stars among the Chronos numbers. This elite groups of fighters wields specific powerful weapons to each of their characters that help rid the world of evil and injustice. With this power came a bit of bigheadedness and there are those among the Chronos numbers who felt it may be time for a

Train and his "woman". It's unfortunate what happens.

bit of a power struggle/coup. Black Cat wasn’t particularly one of them, but his “friend” Creed Diskenth (Chris Patton) saw to it that it was. (Cue classic “I kill your woman so come at me brah” scene.) So, in fact, Train spends a lot of this 24 episode anime chasing down bounties and trying to get at Creed for his injustices, just not with the Chrono numbers.

And why, you may ask, does Train leave the Chronos numbers? Well, Creed did in fact kill his woman and he also shed some light on the overlord situation being created by Chronos. Being able to decide who he shoots with

The 4 great bounty hunters: Train, Sven, Eve, and Rinslet.

his trusty Hades pistol gave Train the intiative to leave Chronos and embark on this adventure of revenge and redemption. This creates problems for the do-gooders of Chronos and their soon to be enemy, the Apostles of the Star. But this is all much later, and it would be better not to divulge and deal witht eh story at its beginnings.

This story, once Train leaves Chronos, deals with the bounty hunters all over this (Japanese?) continent. Set in a slightly different world where a bit more of the magical is possible, issues of transformation and impossible science and powers are given free reign. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but its initially not portrayed as anything supernatural at the beginning (a bit misleading). But I grew to love it in a heartbeat. Come on, a dead-eye shot with a pistol who can save the world and the girl? I’m putty in your hands to mold to this plot.

Sven (Brandon Potter) and basically his daughter Eve.

My favorite character in this anime is Sven Vollfied, voiced by the very able Brandon Potter. Now, you won’t hear this guy’s voice come up this often, but its so gravelly and unique with its tone and inflections and the occaisional squeak in his voice that you’ll laugh and connect all at the same time. But anyways, Sven is a great protective Dad character that looks out for Train, Eve (Brina Palencia) and Rinslet Walker (Jamie Marchi). Throughout the show, Sven sacrifices himself against great odds constantly in order to ensure that the other characters know there’s someone there that cares and loves for them deeply.

With little vinettes into the lives of some of the bounties these four “hunters” chase and two epic battle culminations towards the end, you really get a sense of what these people are individually and collectively fighting for. You find your favorite and root for them, despite the odds of the foes. It makes for a great quick watch (depending on how much time you wanna spend watching little sections of different plots at a time) and has a comically interesting

A great beginning and a great ending.

animation style depsite the heavy issues that are dealth with at times. Not quite a shounen fighter, not quite a comedy, this show find a happy dramadey medium that works just fine. This middle of the road anime deserves at least a 7.2 out of 10.


Casshern Sins: Robotic Humans, or Human Robots?

Hey all you readers out there! It’s been too long, so now I’ve returned in full force! Expect over the next few days to be reading over 10 new posts! I’m pumped and I hope you all are too. So let’s get down to this.

A little while ago, I watched Casshern Sins, the story of a mecha dramatic tragedy in which the world is ending and there’s no glimmer of hope in sight. And who is this tragedy all due to? Casshern. The misunderstood tragic hero of this tale is said to be invincible. By destroying the Sun Called Moon, Luna, Casshern has gained invincibility and is now sought by all robots to be consumed. Why he is sought to be cannibalized, you may ask? Casshern, with his everlasting life, appears to be the only cure in a world that now is overrun with the Ruin. The Ruin is a disease of sorts that begins to slowly errode the machines. With their metallic bodies rusting, it seemed as if the immortality that had been achieved by humans and robots alike. With the meshing of these two races into one race against time, Casshern must rediscover his murder of Luna and the world in which he has destroyed.

Now, to tell the truth, this anime threw me for a loop. I had caught the first 4 episodes at Anime Boston and I found it to be dark and interesting. With a sort of

The interesting art of Casshern.

animation and drawing style I’d never seen before, the first 4 episodes seemed to flow with a slow undercurrent slowly building. Never having seen what Masaki Takei has done before (it seems as if he’s written/created smaller works dealing with sci-fi/fantasy) I was intrigued with the way in which this anime looked. With swooping hairstyles and slender, fluid characters up against the blocky, brutal masses, this sci-fi drama blends the worlds of what’s real and what is seen as the apocalyptic future into one.

Eric Vale gives a stirring performance as Casshern.

What really caught my eye about this anime was some of the voice acting. Not knowing which characters would remain constant after the first 4 episodes, I found Eric Vale, the voice of Casshern, to be a compelling and distant character. His innocent voice withholding power to end lives creates a construct in a character often show in control, but that’s the last thing that Casshern is. Lyuze (Brina Palencia) gave another angle to Casshern Sins with a character with a soft side and revengeful edge. Another few actors that round out the top actors of this anime are Jerry Jewell, Shelley Calene-Black, and Jason Douglas, characters that’re introduced later in the anime.

And now I come to the bad point about this anime. The cyclical nature of this anime is its downfall. Despite the draw of the first four episodes, the following 20 episodes follow in the same fashion. Casshern, on his journey of discovery, comes across characters with tragic and emotional pasts. And what happens? He passes on past them and continues on his way. Either through destruction or heartbreak, Casshern can’t seem to come to terms with those around him and his uncontrollable power. But this anime, if you can get past its monotonous pace, really makes up for this in its art style and fluid animation in a rigidly dying world. So I encourage you to check it out. I give Casshern Sins a 5.8 out of 10. The Abyss is back in full force!

If anything, the fluidity may blow you away.


Black Blood Brothers: More Vampires

This short little anime is a bit different from what I’ve recently been watching. Black Blood Brothers, better known as, basically, old vampires, is the story of, well, old vampires. Versus basically new vampires. It’s like Blade 2. This is essentially 12 episodes of an instance in the life of Jiro Mochizuki. He’s one of the old blood vampires that quelled the rebellion of the Kowloon Children at Hong Kong. Complicated backstory that is explained throughout the episodes. But this anime is basically about his return to Hong Kong, more specifically, the Special Zone.

Now this Special Zone is “special” because it is a safe haven for vampires. Of all sorts. Well, more vampires that are Kowloon Children. And this anime is about some Kowloon Children getting into the Special Zone. Unfortunately. Jiro is not initially allowed into the Special Zone, but he’s allowed “if” he helps quell a second rebellion. And this time, Jiro has his younger brother in tow. And with the help of a vampire mediator, we’ll

A handful of characters for you.

see what happens.

This vampire anime is a slightly different take on what it means to be a vampire. These vampires hate sun, but don’t necessarily die in it. They don’t like water either, and can die in it. They drink blood to replenish their powers, but won’t kill or turn humans who they suck blood from. Silver kills them for sure. And the humans utilize that to keep them in line. The only way humans (red bloods) can be turned into black bloods (vampires) is if vampires let humans drink a bit of their vampire blood. It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. (Unfortunately not in this anime.)

J. Michael Tatum as Jiro.

But yes, this is the story of Jiro vs. the Kowloon Children. And Jiro is done by quite the voice actor. J. Michael Tatum, a voice actor I met at Anime Boston, voiced Jiro, the Silver Blade. He does quite the good job at an English accent, and that’s due to his speech therapist, an old English hag (Just kidding). Colleen Clinkenbeard voices Mimiko Katsuragi, the mediator between the humans (The Company) and the vampires of the Special Zone. Colleen does great work and voices good female characters, one of the best female voice actors that Funimation provides. Jerry Jewell provides the voice for Zelman Clock, a rather mischievous old blood vampire with an affinity for fire and a vehement tongue, the perfect combo for Jerry Jewell himself. Brina Palencia

Jerry Jewell. Nice.

lends her voice for a few episodes as Yafuri Chao, a direct descendant of the Kowloon King and quite the formidable opponent of Jiro. And, last but never least, Christopher Sabat lends a Piccolo like voice as Cain Warlock, another gruff supporting character of the many anime that Christopher Sabat performs in. And this is just half of a cast the lends itself to a

Oh. And they can walk on walls.

decent performance in a short vampire anime.

Now the animation/art direction isn’t necessarily my cup of tea (or blood, if you prefer), but it does justice for itself in its own way. It’s not shonen, and yet its not seinen (Check Basilisk for the reference.). This line that Black Blood Brothers blurs is where it loses me. And the way in which the anime isn’t long enough either leaves it something that it’s desperately missing. These characters have done things that we only hear about through recall. Not direct interaction. And this is where it should’ve been a longer anime. But, all the same, it’s decent in its scope and the way it deals with vampires. 6.3 out of 10.


Claymore: The Female Berserk

So we just finished watching this anime in my Anime Club, and I have to admit, it was ridiculously great. As the title of my blog suggest, it was in fact the female version of Berserk, an anime I reviewed earlier (just as equally badass.). I had really no complaints about this show from beginning to end, but let’s get into the heart of the show to start off.

What you have to know about this anime is that it centers around three species that, you could say, derive from humans. There are humans (us), Yoma (evil creatures that resemble intelligent, radioactive zombies/demons) and Claymores, badass women who go around, part Yoma, part human, and destroy the evil Yomas that take on human form. Sensing the Yoki (you could relate this idea of energy to Ki in DBZ, a lot of the fight sequences are similar, just add swords.) of the Yoma, the Claymores go to fear stricken towns and easily eradicate the Yomas.

Now here’s the kicker. Wait. I can’t give away the kicker. You’ll just have to watch. After you get through the first 8 or 9 episodes, things really start to spice up and the blood really starts to fly. I wish I could say more, but it really is a twisting and turn-filled anime ride that is worth taking.

After having watched this over such an expansive amount of time, I find it a bit hard remembering exactly the plot, but that didn’t stop me from sitting silent in my chair (mostly) and just following the plot quite religiously. The animation and drawing is fantastic. The fight scenes, although laden with unrealistic sword clashing and sparks, is quite amazing to watch. You definitely get a DBZ feel watching this as it plays out as every major goodie and baddie talk out their strategy to the “audience.” (Really, who does this? I would complain about the strangness of talking out battle plans to your opponent, but I guess there would be a lot of dead air without it…) The back stories are great and there’s next to no recap in the entire anime. A definite selling point for me.

The Japanese sub was great and I almost want to watch the dub to see if it’s just as good. I mean come on, Todd Haberkorn as Raki, a completely disposable character and letdown of the entire series? That’s great. They even get Monica Rial, (Miria) Caitlin Glass, (Deneve) and Brina Palencia (Priscilla) to play 3 of the biggest characters, and who are, coincidentally my 3 favorite female voice actors (mostly for their work in Gunslinger Girl). Even Vic Mignogna and Christopher Sabat (MY FAVORITE) make appearances in a few episodes. So yeah, might watch that…

But yeah, this show is great. Battle scene after battle scene, back stories on unbelievable characters, and big, badass bosses? SO glad that they came out with a video game for this. It came out in Japan for the Nintendo DS and should probably be here soon. I’ll let you know if I get a hold of it. (Cool feature, control Yoma with the stylus and screen.) So yes, this anime was great. 8.3 out of 10

 

… And if anybody is really paying attention to my ratings, I know I haven’t really given anything a bad review. If you feel I’m wrong, post a comment and let me know. I’d love the feedback.