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Naruto: Shippuden, My New Obsession

After 10 straight months of watching nothing but, I am completely caught up in the world of Naruto. I’ve started performing Fireball Jutsu’s all over my house, creating Rasengans with my long time friend and avid fan, and even bought a rather expensive and very nice Shino Aburame cosplay for my own personal enjoyment. In a word, obsessed. I can’t get enough of this show, and you already know all I’m gonna do in this post is rant and rave about Naruto: Shippuden. Keep the episodes coming, I want to see Naruto: Shippuden, episode 500.

For those of you who are familiar with Naruto, I don’t need to remind you of the original story. Naruto has lost Sasuke and needs to get

Badass, character clash, as per usual.

stronger to get him back (if he can at all). After 3 years, Naruto returns with a vengeance, a few new Rasengans up his sleeve, and a new unbreakable vow and fervor. Sakura is a bit more badass, but just as useless as before (her battle with Sasori almost leaves something to be desired, Granny Chiyo did most of the work…). The new partner, Sai, is an unlovable bastard with a strange affinity for Japanese ink drawings. Everyone else is pretty legit now in Shippuden. Gotta love my Shikamaru.

So who are the new baddies in this one? Well, you have the Akatsuki. These guys were an outer force in the original Naruto with Kisame and Itachi trying to capture Naruto. The reason? The Nine-Tailed Fox that rests within him. And the other eight tailed beasts (Bijuu) that rest inside their ninjas (Jinchuriki). Sorry for any misspellings. If they get all 9 of the tailed beasts, it’s game over for the world of ninjas. And with 10 badass Akatsuki, the most relentless fighters in all the land, it’s gonna be a fight to the death. And it doesn’t stop there.

What could this be I wonder…

Sasuke has obviously teamed up with Kabuto and Orochimaru, wielding the ways of fire, lightning, and snakes. It’s all very badass, but who (other than fangirls) really likes Sasuke? He’s a bad boy, and he’s kind of a whiny biatch about his brother. (More on that later in the series.) Anyways…

Everybody has powered up and all these new Jutsu’s are being thrown around like hotcakes. Shikamaru is a Jonin, and he’s so damn smart that he’s actually super important in the main plotline. Perfection in a can. Choji is as wonderful as always, his battle with the Sound Ninja in Naruto being one of my favorite fights of all time. Neji lookin’ like a huge master, as per usual. Not a single character has become less cool than they were in Naruto original. Rock Lee, ballin’ and breakin’ hard as well.

And there’s so much I can’t tell you that is just so good to watch! All of the emotions and the brand new soundtrack that makes this one so much more adult and dramatic than anything ever before. The fluid fight scenes and crisp animation make it an enjoyable watch with every episode. I’m learning all the hand signs as we speak.

Here’s a new twist. Does anybody remember my last post on Naruto? I watched that all dubbed. BIG MISTAKE. Maile

Epic and beautiful, all-in-one.

Flanagan ruined it, and the only redeeming qualities for me were Itachi, Shino, Shikamaru, Rock Lee, and Gaara (Liam O’Brien for life). So I watched this one subbed. And let me tell you, Junko Takeuchi is a godsend. She does an amazing job as Naruto and really creates a character that feels and hell, even goes through puberty. Try to pull that off, Male Flapagan. (Every other Japanese voice actor is amazing too. Shino’s deep voice threw me off though…)

What more can I say about this show to rave about it…

There’s a character for everyone in this show. Every character has a unique personality and fighting style that anyone can fall behind. You get what appears to be the precursor and inspiration for Avatar: The

Just for funzies.

Last Airbender with the different element affinities, and plenty of strategic battles that go off so badass like. With so many versions of Naruto and the greatest one-ups-manships of all time, Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden will disappoint no one. At all.

With incredible backstories of a bunch of new characters, great all around presentation, and a fandom that can’t be beat, Naruto: Shippuden gets a well deserved 11 out of 10, my first more than perfect score ever.


Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I don’t know how long this review may turn out to be, but I have so much to say on the topic of Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In what I would consider, and what others would consider to be one of the greatest and most well known anime of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist delivers on so many levels. It has so much going on and so many characters to follow and love that it’s going to be quite hard in keeping this short (that’s what she said).

All that being said, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (And its original show I’ve watched as well, and own) is the story of Edward (Vic Mignogna) and

Too many great characters to count.

Alphonse (Aaron Dismuke/Maxey Whitehead) Elric. These two brothers are into alchemy, the mystic version of what we today call science. In a world apart from our own, Ed and Al delve into the inner workings of things like equivalent exchange (In order for something to be gained, something must be lost of equal value.) and alchemic circles. Seeming to be something of the occult, these two delve into what is common practice of the early 1900s.

Living happily with their mother and father (for a time, until he leaves) Ed and Al become engrossed in the world of Alchemy. Taking every opportunity they can to learn about its secrets, the two become formidable alchemists in their own right at a very young age. And then, tragedy strikes.

Ed and Al, two brothers on an adventure.

Struck down by some unexplained illness, Ed and Al’s mother dies at an unexpected and early time in her life. While the two of them are still young (7 and 9), they attempt the taboo. The attempt to perform human transmutation. With what appears to be a straighforward procedure, the two attempt to create life from the makings of a human (i.e. water, carbon, trace elements, etc.). What they don’t account for is what costs them. Taking Ed’s right arm and left leg and Al’s entire body, Ed barely saves Al’s soul by attaching it to a suit of armor in the corner of the room. Debilitated and with no family left except some loving family friends, Winry Rockbell and her grandmother, Pinako, these two burn down their family home and leave Risembool.

This leads Ed and Al to pursue the only other alchemic object that readers of Harry Potter will be familiar with. The Philosopher’s Stone. This magical object, in the context of FMA, can circumvent the need for equivalent

Always leaving Winry behind to cry...

exchange. This object, they believe, will allow them to get their bodies back and return to a life of normalcy. But with the heavy prices and hardships in store, it won’t be that easy. Providing his services to the military state of Amestris as a “dog of the military”, a state alchemist. With Al along, the two must discover just what it means to put it all on the line for the Philosopher’s Stone.

Alchemy. It's hip.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the later workings of the plots that go down in FMA and FMAB. After a certain amount of episodes, the two diverge in plot. Fullmetal Alchemist doesn’t follow the original plot of the manga, while Brotherhood follows it exactly. Never having read the manga (I’m an anime person, sorry.) I didn’t have a problem with either. There is some big debate and divisive opinions on the matter, but I feel the two shows stand apart, despite being about the same things. Both are quite satisfying in the end.

Great characters, old and new.

In any case, the characters in this show are wonderful. So is the voice acting. Actually, if I may be so bold, the English voice actors are just as popular with this show as the Japanese ones. Funimation did things right when they got the rights to this show and casted accordingly. But enough about that for now. We have to talk characters. I guess I’ll have to talk about characters without revealing anything about the plot. Hard to do, but I’ll manage.

Well, there’s Ed and Al, of course. These two drive the plot and give

Armstrong. Always good for a shirt rip.

wonderfully heartfelt and considerate characters to the show. Ed can be a bit hotheaded (and therein lies the comedy) but his stubborn attitude and realistic view of the world really shape our view into the world of Fullmetal Alchemist. With Al, who’s just as important, comes the caring and gentle giant (because of the suit of armor) character that I secretly admire greatly. His only flaw and greatest strength is that he cares too much. Winry comes across as the weeping damsel in distress,  one of the only female characters in the show to do so. Functioning as a sort of love interest in what is collectively called a shounen, this girl can pack a punch… comedically, whenever she needs to.

Kimblee. Badass. All in white.

And then there are some of my favorite characters. There’s Zolf J. Kimblee, the most badass villain and coolest alchemist to grace the series. With the power to alchemically turn anything into a bomb at his whim, he lays waste to everything in his paste. His nonchalant attitude about life and the love he holds for chaos is something I find to legit to quit in villainous characters. There’s Scar, the Ishballan priest turned freedom fighter. After his people were destroyed in a civil war, Scar ditches his name and uses the powers granted him by his brother in order to kill those alchemists who wronged him. He’s a bit of a conflicted character who really jumps around in the series, but he’s well worth rooting for. Roy Mustang and his surly crew of officers. Mustang is a high ranking officer among the military and effectively rules it with his ability to set anything on fire. Mirrored in his fiery attitude, he has the ambition to rule the country as Furher someday. (Amestris is basically Germany in the early 1900s. Almost hard to swallow that they’re reflecting Nazisms in this show, but it’s a choice.)

This was legit.

Then there are these creatures in the world known as Homunculi. I can’t say anything more about the topic (it’s too damn important), but I can say that they’re named after the 7 deadly sins. Their powers and personalities reflect that, and look out for Greed, Gluttony, and Pride, three of my favorites. Wrath used to be one of my favorites, but he/she is two different characters in FMA and FMAB. All of the Homunculi are key in the plot and well worth picking your favorite for how diverse and interesting their characters are. With two different explanations as to their origins, you can pick your favorite.

I enjoy this.

Now that I’m thinking about all the things that FMA/FMAB has to offer, I am starting to wish I had done a separate blog on Fullmetal Alchemist. These shows are two worlds apart, and similar in so many ways. There’s just so much to go into in detail and scope, and just not enough time to discuss it in. I don’t want to bore anyone with a long winded review, but if you do have questions you’d like answered or a specific topic I should review on my blog, let me know via comment or something. I’d love to talk about it!

Oh, all the characters and the plot I can’t get into and all that good shit. I’m now seeing this review as more of a teaser than anything. The intricate plot and reveals of both versions are well worth it. The dialogue and emotions will enrapture you in joy and sorrow. I can’t talk this up enough, can I? Well I wanna mention voice actors in English before I give this show the 10 out of 10 it deserves.

Can't even explain what's going on here.

Vic Mignogna is as iconic and well known for his voice as Edward Elric as the Japanese voice actor. Loved by many, he may always be recognized as Ed. Aaron Dismuke, one of the youngest voice actors to grace Funimation, got his start from a very young age as Alphonse Elric. With a voice that began to change as the show went on, it was all too unfortunate that Aaron could no longer fulfill the part. Maxey Whitehead did a good job in her own right, but there was

Here's a little throwback Greed.

a distinct difference in Al’s soft spoken voice. Travis Willingham delivers well as Roy Mustang, the fiery commander of the Amestris military. In what I would consider an improved performance from the original FMA, he really allowed his character to come out in Brotherhood.

Caitlin Glass does a phenomenal job as the constantly emotional Winry at all the right points. I must say though that I liked Dameon Clarke far more as Scar than J Michael Tatum. The gruff demeanor of Scar, I feel, leans more towards a man of few words than a gruff sounding religious freak. Just saying.

You beat them back, Scar, you religious freak you.

Both good, just drastically different. Who else should I mention… Eric Vale was badass as Kimblee with his, “I don’t care, I’m nuckin’ futs crazy. I’ll kill you.” attitude. Enough said there. Laura Bailey is as sexy as ever as Lust, the sexiest of the Homunculi. Troy Baker, more than Chris Patton, in the original, provides a great “I want the world and I’ll do anything to get it” voice as Greed. And, exclusively to Brotherhood comes Lin Yao, a prince from Xing with one of the best scenes and deliveries in the entire show, done by Todd Haberkorn. The goofiness of Todd disappears behind the character of Lin Yao and become something entirely different. And, of course, Christopher R. Sabat is amazing as with everything he does as Alex Louis Armstrong, the Strongarm Alchemist.

So with all these great things all in one amazing anime, why haven’t you already seen this/are watching it now? There’s no need to read this review when all I could have said is watch this show. Watch Fullmetal Alchemist and tell your friends about it. Subbed or dubbed, it doesn’t matter. Watch both versions and compare, let me know which one’s your favorite. Bask in the glory that is FMA/FMAB. It’s all good so trust The Abyss and jump right in. It’s worth it. 10 out of 10.

It all comes full circle. Full alchemy circle.


Kaze No Stigma: Avatar’s Estranged Cousin

Let me first start off by saying that the wikipedia description of this show really doesn’t describe what I actually witnessed in this show about wind and fire and earth powers (water was sadly left out). I must say that for an anime, straight out of Japan to pale in comparison to the Nickelodeon version of a similar show, is sad. But this show has achieved the impossible. And yet, this gives a lot of props to Avatar: The Last Airbender and the amazing creators behind it. It was a worthwhile show. But that’s not the point.

Let me kick something at you. “Kazuma Kannagi was considered useless within his family because he could not use “Enjutsu” (Blaze Technique), the power to control flames. When he was defeated by Ayano Kannagi, one of his very distant relatives, in a bout to decide

If only it were truly like this...

who would wield “Enraiha” (Blaze Lightning Supremacy), a sword that was wielded by the family heir, he was banished from the family. Four years later, he returns as a master of “Fūjutsu” (Wind Technique), the power to control wind, and with a new name: Kazuma Yagami. Soon after his return, he is reunited with Ayano and his younger brother, Ren, who is also gifted in Enjutsu. Soon, however, Kannagi family members are killed and the murder weapon is revealed to be Fūjutsu. Now Kazuma has to fight his family to prove that he is not the murderer and follow a series of adventures with Ayano.”

Okay, that is the bare bones plot… of the first 6 episodes. This show may start here, but it ends in a different dimension entirely. Thanks for not ruining the plot in your summary, Wikipedia, but you sure as Hell didn’t clue me in as to where this show was headed.

Stranger things have happened in this show.

And from that description alone, I got a different vision of what I thought this show would be. I was envisioning samurai fire sword wielders. Dynasty warriors shit. Real harcore fights. The reality? Modern day Tokyo with some decent fight scenes and not a whole lot about really redeeming himself with that murder on his hands. Nice.

That’s not to say that Kazuma Yagami (Robert McCollum) wasn’t a compelling character. He is by far one of the most compelling characters I’ve encountered in anime. Cast out by his family because of his differences at a young age, Kazuma must make his way in the real world with no real support. And he doesn’t just lay down and die. Oh no. He gets up, makes a pact with the Wind Gods, and comes back to lay waste to his family. Not actually kill them, but bleed them dry of their money by becoming hired help. And at every turn, Kazuma consistently tells the entire Konnagi family to go shove it. He truly doesn’t care if they live or die. Pretty much up until the last episode. You can’t deny that a character with those emotions shouldn’t be messed up. Well he isn’t, and he gets the job done when, with most other characters, he would sit down and cry about his dilemma. Job well done, Kazuma.

But back to the plot. After this little 6 or 7 episode arc of catching his framed killers, Kazuma and Ayano Kannagi (Cherami Leigh) go on random adventures that don’t come together into a coherent end that begins to form in episode 17 of 24. Yes, as small sections the first season and beginning of the second season seem

I bet you anything he's about to cry.

interesting. But when you see the leapfrog style of the entire anime, it almost seems senseless.

Other than that glaring problem, most of the voice acting in the english dub just doesn’t hold up. I know I really should’ve just watched this dubbed, but I wanted to give what I thought was going to be a decent anime a try. This anime that was neither here nor there in genre really took me for a loop. Wow. Cherami Leigh became an annoying time bomb, who, as in most shounen, couldn’t do a damn thing for herself. Ren (Josh Grelle) became a provincial crybaby over his big bro Kazuma, and most other voice actors fell by the wayside with their sub par performances.

I think that reason I’m tied up about this show is that it was so weak in plot, characters, and direction. It wasn’t what I expected and it showed. There’s a whole episode about perverts and panty shots for god sakes. I didn’t mind it for the comic relief, but a lot of this show, even in its most serious moments, came of as just plain comic and sad. I sadly give what I thought was going to be The Last Airbender, 4.1 out of 10.

I think this sums up everything about this show… And it’s not even good subbed…


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.