Tag Archives: Naruto

Naruto: The Broken Bond

For those of you who have read my Naruto review, you know how much I’ve become a fan of the anime. There’s a character for everyone, action packed, and heartfelt at parts (impressive for a kid’s cartoon, no?). Imagine my luck when I found Naruto: The Broken Bond video game at a convention. (Found being the operative word.) I was overjoyed after finishing the entire first series (all fillers included, mind you) and I wanted to play this game so badly. Not much of a focus on Gaara of the Sand

Clean and crisp fight system, right up my alley.

(bummer), and no Shino to speak of. But the game did focus on my favorite part of the series. Retrieving Sasuke from the evil clutches of Orochimaru. Let’s get it on.

So this game, in all its 3-D glory, takes place from around episode 80 to 140. You find Itachi, recruit Tsunade, and fight for Sasuke. Some of the most legit parts of the entire series. And it all kicks off with the death of the Third Hokage. You get a detrimentally redonk fight right before the whole game kicks off. It’s dope.

An expansive world of the Leaf Village and surrounding area.

What’s the only downside of that? You have to fight with Naruto as the main character you customize and level up throughout the rest of the game. He’s lame, and he’s voice by Maile Flanagan. That robustly rotund woman has ruined Naruto for me, other than the fact he’s an annoying character to begin with. I watched Naruto dubbed, played the game dubbbed, and now it’s time for a different change of pace. Japanese loyalists rejoice, I’m switching to subbed for Naruto: Shippuden.

So in this new change apparently (never played the other game) from Rise of a Ninja, there’s a whole new fighting system where you can tag

Tag teams for ultimate destruction.

in a teammate. The world is more expansive and colorful than the last, and you really feel like you jumped into the world of Naruto. You’re flying through the trees, throwing Kunai, and rousing up some Ryo to pay for all your customizable ninjutsu. It’s pretty dope and there’s even some carnival games in there for the kids. All the side missions and length of the plot allow this to be a 40 hour game easy. And worth replay value and tournament play with friends. Even online, but it’s probably not worth it.

Where’s Shino?

Some surprises to me came in the gameplay as well. There’s no Shino as I said before. That loveable bug kid I wanted to cosplay someday isn’t in the anime much at this point, so they felt they didn’t need to put him in the game as a playable character. Lame. I loved being able to use Shikamaru (he’s dope as balls), and I created a love for Neji’s 8 Trigram, 64 Palm through playing as him extensively in the game. Little hint to anyone? If you wanna be cheap and win, use Kiba and his XXXY attack. Never misses, and it’s quick. Just a thought.

The plot towards the end is ruined when Choji, Neji, Kiba, Shikamaru, and Rock Lee come in to fight the Sound Ninja. The battles are too easy on easy and even just as simple on normal (labeled Ganin,

You create the ultimate battles.

Chunin, and Jonin). It was anticlimactic and I was looking for a lot more ninjutsu to utilize throughout the game. Only 2 for Shikamaru and most of the characters? Come on… But, all the same, there are so many character to love and choose from.

Get some of that dopeness.

So plug in and get hooked for a couple of days with Naruto: The Broken Bond. I’m planning on playing more of these and honing my skills with Rock Lee. The gameplay is the best part and it’s nostalgic for anyone who has watched Naruto to relive the events. Just don’t expect me to go exploring all that often without being able to navigate waterways and avoid sharp spike fences. Take away life, my ass.

Gotta say the overall game experience wasn’t too hard, and well worth all the fighting. So train well my young Ganin, for you will be a Hokage one day. (And please add Shino next time…) 8.4 out of 10.

Advertisements

Naruto: The Realest

Cover of the first manga.

Naruto. What is there to say about Naruto? What is there to truly say about one of the most ballin’ animes currently running? Well there’s a lot more to say than that it’s just balling. This show fulfills every young boys’ dream of becoming a ninja. And not just any ordinary ninja, but a true Shinobi with Ninjutsu and Thaijustsu for days. You got the Kunai and Shuriken, and the classic substitution technique. These young children Shinobi put legitimate ninjas to shame. They are unstoppable. And this show is infectious.

But there’s just one debate we have to deal with before we move on to the plot of Naruto. And that is: Naruto Dubbed vs

Naruto and the power of his Nine-Tailed Fox.

Naruto Subbed? There are those younger kids who would argue dubbed, due to an ability to watch a show (not read, though not a valid argument) and a lot of younger kids watched this on Cartoon Network. There are a handful of good voice actors in the show that make it worth watching it. But there’s the flipside of the coin. The subbed version, when it comes down to it, is better done. There’s swearing, and Rock Lee’s secret technique isn’t called Loopy Fist. That was a bit of a disappointment. For a more serious tone for the older fans of Naruto should watch the subbed version. But it all comes down to a preference of English vs Japanese. It’s the same show, just a different feel. It’s all up to you.

The starring team: Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto!

So, Naruto is a show about Naruto Uzumaki (Maile Flanagan). He is a ninja in training and hoping to become the leader of the village he lives in one day, known as The Village Hidden in the Leaves. The Third Hokage, leader of the village, sees much promise in Naruto and hopes that his sensei’s, Iruka Umino (Quinton Flynn) and Kakashi Hatake (Dave Wittenberg). With his teammates Sasuke Uchiha (Yuri Lowenthal), the cool calm-headed prodigy out to prove himself, and Sakura Haruno (Kate Higgins), the hot-headed and pretty much useless book smart girl,  Naruto can’t fail in his mission to become the best. Believe it!

So many great characters in the world of Naruto!

There’s a lot of arcs and sections in this show. There’s the introduction of all the characters, the Chunin exams (the test that sees if you’re ready to become the next level ninja), and the battles between Orochimaru (Steven Blum) and his henchmen. With each trial for Naruto comes more responsibility and more powers. The show culminates in a huge twist and leaves more than 60 episodes of fillers that have nothing to do with the main plot. That’s not to say that there aren’t fillers throughout that aren’t cool and entertaining, I personally found a lot of the fillers to be funny and not so much a detraction from the show as an enhancer of the lesser characters. And how many cool characters there are.

There’s the 12 Ganin, 3 of which I’ve already mentioned. There’s Kiba Inuzuka (Kyle Hebert), the dog master of Akamaru and a master of, well, I’ll let you check everyone’s powers out. Shino Aburame (Derek Stephen Prince) is the master of bugs, and one of my favorite Shinobi in the show. Filling out Team 8 is Hinata Hyuga (Stephanie Sheh), the master of soft palm. She has a huge crush on Naruto but never

Team 10, led by the great Shikamaru.

reveals it in the original Naruto, an unfortunate thing.

Team 10 is made up of some real destructive masters as well. Choji Akimichi (Robbie Rist), the expanding fat kid with a penchant for lots and lots of niblets and chips. Shikamaru Nara (Tom Gibis) one of my favorite characters in the show and one of the only truly gifted in the series. His ability with shadows will leave you… breathless. And then there’s Ino Yamanaka (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), the useless girl who is more useless than Professor X. (You’ll see why.)

Look at Shino back there, bein’ all wiznerd and whatnot.

And then there’s Team Guy, the most masterful of all the masters. Led by Might Guy (Skip Stellrecht), his mastering of the physical Thaijustsu is just too legit to quit. Under Guy’s tutelage is Rock Lee (Brian Donovan), the only kid who will never quit and always fights to the end with his Flying Leaf Hurricane. Tenten (Danielle Judovits) is a weapons master and is always twirling and releasing weapons on everyone’s asses. And the semi-leader of the team is Neji Hyuga (Steve Staley) master of his cousin’s soft fist and intelligent as Hell.

All of these awesome characters flesh out a show about honor and friendship, being the best and doing everything in your power to prove your self worth. There’s self discipline, training montages, and

And Team Guy, they pack a whallup of a punch.

everything you wanna see in a shounen of this magnitude that needs to be seen by all young men out there that need a great role model in their lives, or just a great action cartoon/anime. Oh, and don’t forget the villains! I already mentioned Orochimaru, but there’s the best character and best voice actor that needs to be mentioned, nay, worshipped. Gaara (Liam O’Brien) is a disciple of the Village Hidden in the Sand, and a true beast of a fighter. With a gourd full of sand that does his every bidding, there’s more than meets the eye to this character. And he will completely slaughter you. Two words: SAND COFFIN.

And don’t ever forget Gaara. SAND COFFIN.

So watch this show for sure. The production value gets better as the show goes along, and for those that like dubbed anime, it’s not the worst in the world. And that brings up an issue. Maile Flanagan ruins this show. She may have a similar voice that can mirror the tone that Naruto Japanese version can do, but that’s just a bit of a stretch. Maile Flanagan’s whiney voice and childish lines leave a lot to be desired from a leading role. Oh, and, well, it’s just gross. Sorry there, Flannie old pal, but it’s probably for the best the dubbed version was cut off in the middle of Naruto Shippuden. But, for overall story and deliverance, Naruto as a whole, for all it’s worth, deserves a 8.8 out of 10. Definitely top 10 anime of all time to watch before you die. (You can skip the fillers.)


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.


Bleach: Shounen on a Giant Scale

With the new circuit of conventions on the East Coast comes a new batch of cosplays to plan. And what caught my eye this summer, as my girlfriend suggested was Sosuke Aizen, main antagonist of the hit shounen series (still running) Bleach from Japan. (As all anime are usually from  there.) Not knowing a thing about the character I would attempt to portray, I thought, heck, let me take a stab at watching some Bleach. I had no idea what was in store for me for the next 5 weeks. With incredibly long battle scenes of at least 2-3 episodes in length, filler SEASONS and the occaisonal humorous episode, this show throws a lot at you in what I feel is a reasonably paced amount of time. And the more you watch, the more you feel for certain characters and the more you feel like talking about it all the time (I wish I had a Bleach buddy to discuss the finer things with…). With such a cult following (very similar to Naruto) Bleach has become a staple I feel any anime fan should at least tune into every once in a while.

Ichigo and Rukia. Strange love twisted relationship?

So I’m not going to delve to deeply into the story, so I’ll keep it restricted to the first couple of seasons. I already ruined one spoiler for you, so I hope it doesn’t deter you from watching at all. Ichigo Kurosaki is a typical 15 year old high schooler. Well, almost. He has the ability to see spirits that haven’t crossed over and he doesn’t really know why. But this hypersensitive awareness to the Other has caused him a bit of trouble. Which turns into a lot of trouble. That he may inevitably face for the rest of his life.

One day, while walking home from school (insert whistling skip here), Ichigo encounters something he’s never seen before. (Which, based on how often it happens in his hometown of Karakura Town, I’m surprised he hasn’t seen it before…) Rukia Kuchiki, a black robed Shinigami Soul Reaper is battling what appears to be a skull-masked monster. After a few episodes, in her weakened state, she can no longer battle and lends almost all of her power to Ichigo. In a sudden flash and transformation, Ichigo is transformed into a Soul Reaper himself and embarks on countless adventures of struggle and strife.

Due to Ichigo’s acquirement of Rukia’s powers, Rukia is taken prisoner by her brother Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abari, and sentenced to death. Ichigo and his friends, Orihime Inoue, Yatsutora Sado, and Uryu Ishida, must all band together and reach the Soul Society, afterworld in which the 13 Court Guard Squads reign supreme over all souls and the dealings with the Hollows. (Hollows end up being a main form of opponent of Ichigo in the first and successive seasons, just in different forms.)

Ichigo fights to save Rukia!

After coming to and entering the Soul Society’s inner chamber, known as the Seireitei, Ichigo and Co. must battle hordes of Soul Reapers, both weak and powerful. Beginning his own path to strength, it is with and against the Soul Society and the Court Guard Squads that Ichigo finds his place in such a new world. With new enemies and challenges that seem to pop up out of nowhere as the seasons go, it may seem (as Ichigo’s voice actor said reluctantly, yet happily, that the show may never end, but at least he’ll continue to get paid for it.)

An immense amount of badasses.

All-in-all, with such an expansive cast with so many characters, this show is unbelievably immense in its scope and plot. And it’s mainly due to the writing and characters behind it. Although many fans may think the show should’ve ended long ago, I’ll have to see once I get farther (I’m on episode 212.). But there needs to be a lot of credit given to the vocal cast of this show. This show, although it would be just fine subbed, may credit it’s American fan base success to Johnny Yong Bosch, voice of Ichigo Kurosaki, our hero. With his deeply troubled teen facing a whole lot of changes in life way beyond that of anyone else due to its mythical quality, Bosch adds an at times playful yet at most times serious voice to a complex character.

Seeing as there are so many characters, I can’t really give credit to all those who lends their great voices to the show. So, for starters, Derek Stephen Prince is owed some credit for his snarky, unabashed portrayal of Uryu Ishida, the

I enjoy this fan pic. (Uryu Ishida)

last of the Quincies. And, although he may not speak much, Jamieson Price gives a greatly underappreciated voice as Yatsutora Sado, the deeply softspoken Hispanic wonder. Gin Ichimaru, voiced by Doug Erholtz, is another voice that stood out to me with its snake-like charm and venomous words as another worthy opponent. Karen Strassman gave a semi-heartbreaking performance as Momo Hinamori, the lieutenant of Sosuke Aizen (voiced by Kyle Herbert), a woman in love with duty and the will to follow. Byakuya Kuchiki is amazingly voiced by a badass, Dan Woren. His I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude really shines through with that heart of gold underneath with

Byakuya Kuchiki, how fantastic

Woren’s voice. David Lodge, a voice actor I’m not that familiar with, adds a new voice I haven’t heard before with the grave undertones of Kenpachi Zaraki. And last but certainly not least comes Liam O’Brien. His amazingly recognizable voice lends itself perfectly to the soft spoken Jushiro Ukitake. And that’s only to name a few. After a while, characters voices become synonymous with the character portrayed on screen in perfect sychronization.

Now, the animation is the good and bad thing about this show. As it progresses, through the past few years, it has gotten better. It’s never been completely terrible, but I admire and try to find anime that have a more fluid style to their action scenes. This show has improved, but I find there are more stationary shots dealing with dialogue and explosions than actual fluid swordfights. Although a part of this show deals with powers and sword attacks not in the short term, there is an element of strategy among the characters I can admire.

Something to look forward to in Bleach.

Apart from being in the top 10 longest running anime, it would be nice to see this show concluded in a way that won’t have been conceived out of a sense of pressure due to its length. I would rather have a harmonious ending with all the seasons fitting together in what becomes a well planned final battle between the characters that matter. Also, I wouldn’t mind if some of the main good guys perished every once in a while, it seems like (with most anime of this style) that no main characters ever die. It might add an element of drama not before captured in this show. Just a thought.

A solid 8.3 out of 10.

 


Basilisk: Ninja Powers, Anyone?

So I’ve been watching through every single anime Christopher Sabat has ever done and I found this anime first. Basilisk. The intro explains it, but yes, it involves a bird and a snake. I was surprised and blown away by the basic premise of this anime. The Iga and Kouga clans for centuries now have been subjected to a no fighting pact. And then suddenly, to determine the next shogun, the pact has been dissolved and the two clans slowly relinquish the hate they had for one another. But at the heart of this feud at the two leaders of the clans, Gennosuke Kouga (Troy Baker) and Oboro Ige (Laura Bailey). These two are set to wed and the warring of their clans sets them at odds as the anime progresses.

And that’s not all. It’s a 10 vs 10, winner takes all match, and these highly skilled ninjas have powers. Powers beyond belief. And the that’s where the shows bread and butter comes from. Each of the ten ninjas on both sides have amazing individual powers that’re revealed as the show goes on. (Usually every other episode.) And these are the scenes that make my jaw drop. Whether they be stealth related or upfront attacks, the Kouga and Ige are well matched. And it’s always sad to see one of the ninjas die. But that’s the brilliant thing about the show. You choose which side you’ll side with. And then let them duke it out in an amazing 24 episodes.

For a sort of grown-up shonen (anime geared towards 15 and under boys), this show is known as a seinen (18-30 year old men). It’s got the gratuitous violence and graphic nudity, but besides that, it has animation/art that looks like it could be from the 1600’s shogunate era. Period piece anime like this are what gets my vote for good anime. Historical fiction with a bit of fantasy violence. Thanks. I’ll have some more.

AND THE VOICE ACTORS. Well obviously Christopher Sabat. He plays Kasumi Gyoubu, a big bald-headed master with… well… a power I’d rather have you

Kouga. True champions.

discover. (All the powers in the show are worth watching for. Troy Baker truly is amazing as Gennosuke, and I’ve always though he’s done great, military voices that stand out in anime. Look at him in the video game Darksiders or simply watch the end of Fullmetal Alchemist. (Frank Archer is one of my favorite anime characters.) He mixes his valiant warriors with his sinister villains in a way that you can really see his versatility in delivery. There’s Stephanie Young as the sexy Kagerou. As a purely sexual entity in a mostly manly anime, it makes sense. Jeremy Inman plays a hilarious character in this, Udono Jousuke, the fate, balloon-like (hint hint) member of the Kouga. He’s quite funny, yet dumb and sexist. I love his power and find that he should’ve laster longer than he did. His voice sounds like a

Ige. Pansies.

lot of Dragonball Z characters do. Eric Vale plays the sneaky Jimushi Jubei. Although he’s only on the show for a bit, I love Eric Vale’s characters for their wide-ranging types and voices. Also notable are Mark Stoddard as Yakushiji Tenzen and Justin Cook as Yashamaru. They contradict each other as evil and just, and that’s why I hate one and not the other. I’m biased towards the Kouga and really dispise the Ige, but that was my personal choice from the beginning.

This anime’s worth the watch. It’s find dubbed and probably just as good subbed (seeing as its a period piece). The fights are great (DBZ quality) and the ending is quite good, probably one of the only slightly weak spots in the anime. If you enjoy Naruto or DBZ or any other shonen, why don’t you man up and watch a really good seinen with great characters and powers you won’t wanna miss? Cause Basilisk is what you need if you wanna feel like destroying people after a couples episodes of watching. That, or become a ninja. 9.6 out of 10.

Christopher Sabat. I love you, for you are a badass.