Tag Archives: John Swasey

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?

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Soul Eater: The Nightmare Before Anime

Ever since my girlfriend and her sister cosplayed the Thompson twins from Soul Eater, I had developed a growing

Liz and Patty. Yes.

interest in watching Soul Eater. I didn’t realize at the time what this show would hold in store for me. (Added bonus if Christopher Sabat does any voice in an anime.) As I began watching this 51 episode anime, I found myself falling in love with the characters and caring for what would happen to them (although I had the ending ruined for me by complete accident.) It didn’t detract from the pulse-pounding episodes of battle after battle that ensued, and I found a new love in this Halloween-type anime that sent chills down my spine and laughs throughout my body as I spent a week watching this amazing anime. I was enraptured.

This anime follows the story of three “Meisters” and their “Weapons.” These duos of weapon and wielder take on what are known as Kishins, the tainted souls of creatures that have become monsters and feed on other people’s souls. Once 99 Kishin souls are collected, and one witch’s soul, then the weapon is deemed worthy of being used by Lord Death. This grim reaper is the essential Headmaster of the DWMA, also known as the Death Weapon Meister Academy. He installed this school to battle Kishins, and it has done a good job up to this point.

The doom and gloom of Death City.

It is at this point that things begin to go downhill. The evil witch Medusa (Luci Christian) and others have made plans to bring down the DWMA, and it is up to three brave Meisters, Maka Albarn (Laura Bailey), Black Star (Brittney Karbowski), and Death the Kid (Todd Haberkorn) to defeat the evil plot of the witches and Kishins. Teamed up with their weapons, Soul Eater (Micah Solusod), Tsubaki (Monica Rial), and the Thompson twins Liz (Jamie Marchi) and Patty (Cherami Leigh).

So it may seem weird that Meisters, who are people, are fighting using weapons who are also people. But these people are born with the ability to change into weapons at will. These weapons are special as well. A Meister and its Weapon have a special bond known as Soul Resonance. This bond allows Meister and Weapon to combine into one soul and creates a higher power in which to defeat enemies. But these three are not on the level of the Professors or Lord Death himself at the DWMA. And it is the school’s purpose to train these Meisters and Weapons in order to make them formidable opponents against Kishins.

The one thing that stands out about this anime, to me, is the style in which the plot is set. The doom and gloom of death and souls is combined with the comedic

Soul Eater. With some pizazz.

drawings of the artists. This gives it an anime meets Nightmare Before Christmas feel to it. The grinning Sun and Moon with blood dripping from their teeth give it that comedic element, mixed with the morbid. The grim reapers and monster encountered, drawn in what appears to be Jack the Ripper Whitechapel area sets up one of the best environments I’ve ever encountered in an anime.

Black Star. Badass.

And there are some great english voice actors that are in this anime. It would take too long to give a whole list, so I’ll just highlight a few. I thought Micah Solusod gave a great performance as Soul Eater, Maka’s weapon scythe. His grave voice and determined attitude comes across great through Micah, although I’ve never heard of him before. Brittney Karbowski was amazing as the cocky Black Star, my all time favorite ninja child and all around badass. John Swasey was great as Lord Death. His goofy voice gave the anime a Jack Skellington element with his personality and outlook. Vic Mignogna was hilarious as Maka’s father and Death Scythe Spirit. His obsession with seeking his daughter’s approval was always worth a laugh. Chuck Huber was fantastic as the madness induced Professor Doctor Franken Stein. His tormented character fought back and forth, and this was amazingly done by Huber. Maxey Whitehead was great as the insecure, gender-bender Crona. The duo of Crona and Ragnarok against the world and the lack of acceptance was heart wrenching to say the least. And yes, Troy Baker was amazing as Excalibur, the useless, fool dueling weapon of legend and lore.

And that’s about it. To get too much into the story might ruin the anime with spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this. If you’re looking for a light-hearted shonen with gore, guts (courage/bravery), and glorious fighting, this anime is for you. I give Soul Eater a 9 out of 10.

And here’s a taste of the show with a tribute to Death the Kid and the sexy Thompson Twins. Hooray.


My Bride is a Mermaid

Let me start off by saying that this is now one of my favorite humorous comedic anime. Hands down. It’s simple, it’s hilarious, and it encompasses an all star cast of voice actors that bring the humor up to a whole new level. I recommend dubbed before subbed, naturally, as I feel anime that we can’t really glean a good delivery from due to subtitles suffers in the delivery. But this anime really stands out to me as one of those anime that comes along for purely a comedic purpose and nails it. Yes, there are quite a few sexual innuendos and reference and most of the characters are drawn in a sexual manner, but it doesn’t detract from the awesomeness that is My Bride is a Mermaid.

The plot of this show is that Nagasumi Michishio(Todd Haberkorn) is visiting his grandmother at the Seto Inland Sea. He drowns. But who saves him? A mermaid. And because Nagasumi has seen Sun Seto (Alexis Tipton), he must pay the price

Pretty serious there, eh?

with his life, for it is the mermaid law. But clever little Sun uses the “loophole” in the law and marries Nagasumi in an effort to save both their hides (or tails in Sun’s situation). This leads to a hilarious string of goofy and outlandish situations that kept me laughing through all 26 episodes.

Okay, so the voice actors that make up the cast of MBIAM is what makes the show amazing. We have Todd Haberkorn as Nagasumi, and his voice always lends a bit of geeky, endearing comedy to everything he does. I truly feel he’s always cast as the geeky character, and I have no problem with that, he’s quite amazing at it and always delivers well. There’s John Swasey, doing his gruff badass voice (he has two modes, gruff or girly) as Sun’s father Gozaburo, the leader of the mermaid mafia gang that threatens Nagasumi’s life. He is not cool with his daughter’s marriage, and makes it a point to make Nagasumi’s life a living Hell.

Now he’s a voice actor who surprised me. Christopher Sabat (AKA God) surprised me fully with his voice as Masa, the black mafia member of the Seto

Christopher Sabat???

tribe. His voice comes off as so black and sensual that you become shocked to find out that Piccolo did his voice. Great work. Monica Rial as Maki, the deranged conch shell assassin. Annoying at yet always laughably funny. Bryan Massey, as Shark, one of the funnier side characters of the anime who always speaks in the form of a question. Would love to cosplay him one day. Another shocker: J. Michael Tatum plays Lunar’s father, the Terminator spoofing hardbody who will do anything to quote one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films. And last but not least, Eric Vale. Time and time again he has proven to play characters I connect with and admire, be it my first love of Trunks or the great snob who is Kai Mikawa, the porpoise and agoraphobic who is after Sun’s heart.

Now that we’ve gotten a little into how great the voice actors are, let’s talk about the meat of the show. So, usually, every episode pertains, in some way, to some side character always trying to break up Sun and Nagasumi. Be it Sun’s father or Lunar (Cherami Leigh) Sun’s singing and life rival, there’s always something awkwardly sexual going on. Favorite scene? Nagasumi

Eric Vale, you devil, you...

rubbing down Sun’s legs behind a bush. (Mermaids can walk on human legs, but the second they touch water, it turns into a fin.) Oddly enough, some of this show, I would venture to guess, may turn on some men, who are into mermaids, and young voluptuous girls… That are cartoons. And I think that’s where the TV-MA rating comes in. There is the occasional swear, but the sexual content is where the show really gets its fangs.

All in all, I really love this new up and coming anime. I enjoyed every minute of it and found the dub to be far better than the sub. The delivery and timing of the jokes speaks to both a American and Japanese audience. The art direction was great (weird thing with shiny unicorn blood?) and although the theme song might have been annoying and a tad too long, it didn’t take away from the fact I would get excited when they show started to play. Definitely

Come watch, won't you?

look out for this anime and, hopefully, this will become a big thing. 8.7 out of 10.