Tag Archives: Kate Oxley

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, ┬áRaimei 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?