Tag Archives: Vic Mignogna

Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple

I’m a huge sucker for anime that involves martial arts. Heck, for anything that involves martial arts. I dream about one day becoming a disciple of a certain martial arts form, but that day may be behind me (my only training was trying lethal moves out on my sister, in a joking manner of course). But the adrenaline and inspiration that martial arts injects into me makes me feel like I can do anything. And a character like Kenichi: History’s Mightiest Disciple proves it.

Although this anime boasts 50 episodes (and OVA’s to come), it is rather simple and extols the teachings and techniques of martial arts. Kenichi “Weak Knees” Shirahama (Josh Grelle) is just what his nickname suggests. Picked on all the time at school and always outcasted, Kenichi joins the school’s Karate Club in order to become stronger. After being

Kenichi and the masters of Ryozanpaku!

threatened by the biggest kid in the club, Kenichi is worried for his life. And his alien looking friend Haruo Niijima (Todd Haberkorn) confirms this.

Until one day when Kenichi’s entire life changes. Rescued by a new transfer student to the school, Miu Furinji (Carrie Savage), Kenichi discovers a way to fight back against all those bullies. Joining the Ryozanpaku dojo, Kenichi becomes the sole disciple and strongest hero by story’s end.

Miu, the boob action in the show. Pretty ridonk fighter though.

What I liked most about this show, other than the martial arts, is the sensei’s of the dojo. There’s Hayato Furinji (R. Bruce Elliott), the wizened leader of the gym who is basically unstoppable. Although he’s not around, he supports Kenichi and his granddaughter Miu. There’s Shio Sakaki (Christopher Sabat) the drunken comedy and Karate master. His punches are fierce and so is his standoffish personality. He likes Kenichi like a father (although he already has one) and pushes him to do better.  Apachai Hopachai (Sonny Strait) is the dumb guy in the group. He’s lovable and friendly, but he doesn’t know his own strength. Always kicking Kenichi into the atmosphere, he loves calling out his name when he performs Muay Thai (my favorite. Period.) Shigure Kosaka  (Trina Nishimura) is the weapons expert of the group. She doesn’t talk much, but makes up for it with quick sharp wit with her blade. Kensei Ma (Vic Mignogna) is an interesting old man. Bald and brazen, he brings the pervert aspect into the anime. Always taking pictures, he still finds time to teach Kenichi Chinese Kenpo (softer martial arts). And last but not least, Kenichi’s main teacher, Akisame Koetsuji (Kent Williams). His intelligence and artful technique pervade every aspect of his life. He can usually be seen forcing Kenichi to tow him around on a tire attached to a string through the city streets.

The Shinpaku alliance!

And there are far more characters than that that add spice to this show. As I mentioned before, Niijima is a wonderfully slithery character. His art of running away never fails, and his PDA never fails on recon. Todd Haberkorn brings a wildly raucous character to life with his evil alien features. And then there’s Ragnarok. Considered all to be Kenichi’s arch rivals, Kenichi must defeat them in order to keep from dying (or anything else terrible). One of my personal favorites is Hermit (Eric Vale) this solemn and quiet character has a masterful technique and an iron will. Eric Vale does a wonderful job as usual as a character who never gives up with a great dramatic voice. Jerry Jewell plays a ferociously sinister character I can’t really talk about, but he’s worth waiting for. And J. Michael Tatum does a voice I didn’t recognize at first with Ikki Takeda, the boxing beauty with shiny blue hair.

With all of these wonderful Funimation voice actors and so many characters, nothing could be better. And then you get down to all the fighting. Although some of it may be unrealistic and come with explosions of light and unheard of power with your fists, the technique is there. I’ve learned more from watching Kenichi than I have from anything else. I know moves, fluid techniques, and trick moves too. I know their names and why they’re significant, I might as well have just

Niijima and his wonderfully alien good looks.

watched a Discovery Channel show on it. And from so many different countries! China, Japan, Thailand, and any other Asian country that may have been mentioned. This show displays a sort of U.N. like congregation of the wonders and majesty of martial arts and brings them together in one wonderful show.

This show may floor you.

The plot is simple and straightforward, pulling no punches (pun-ch intended). Kenichi must systematically defeat and conquer enemies and his fears in order to become the best. What more of an archetypal story do you need? Throw in a whole lot of comedy, boobs, and amazing fighting technique, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is one of the best shounen out there. Get some of that kick ass. 8.3 out of 10.

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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.


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.


Princess Tutu: Girly Manly Girl Anime

So most people may be thinking, “I need to check this guy’s man card. He’s reviewing an anime about pretty girls and boys performing ballet.” True. But I can assure you I have all the paperwork, sir. Princess Tutu, as the title suggests, may sound like one of the most girly animes on the planet. But, as I came to find, this show is wayyy more than that. This show, if you watch a few episodes, is quite good overall, with no gender barriers attached.

This is a show about a Duck (Ahiru) who is given the power of a necklace to

Princess Tutu (Duck after transformation)

transform into a girl and, once a girl, she can transform into Princess Tutu, the ballerina wonder. She is given this power by the writer and omnipresent Drosselmeyer (Nutcracker, anyone?) who controls and creates the story. The story within a story, so it seems, is that of a raven who battles a prince, and in order to save the prince, a knight shatters the prince’s heart to save him and protect the town against the evil raven.

Princess Tutu is in the story, and for her part, she is meant to recover those lost shards of the prince’s heart for him to recover his true self. Duck (Princess Tutu) attends the ballet school which Prince Mytho attends and searches all over the town for his heart. Meanwhile, Fakir (the knight) does not want Tutu to recover the heart shards and tries to thwart her, thinking of the prince and what is best for him. Also introduced into the story is the dancer Rue, the beautiful and elegant ballet student who holds a love interest for Mytho. With the plot swirling around these characters, we go along for the ride in discovering exactly what this little town holds.

Besides these four, this story holds host to a great number of smaller characters that really spice up the story. At first through the anime, we’re introduced to those characters who hold heart shards, so, of course, they all have something wrong with them. There’s always a ballet student or two who are animals pretending to be humans, which no one at all finds strange. This is probably some comment on how Duck hides the fact that she’s a duck through her magical necklace. But, either way, this anime has one of the best characters you will ever meet. Mr. Cat. This ballet instructor cat-man

MR. CAT

instructs all the classes and efficiently attempts to marry anyone who fails.

I watched the sub, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from watching the dubbed version, because most of the voices are done quite well (Guest star Vic Mignogna) but it will throw you off if you start watching one way and then another. Mytho switches from a girly voice to one quite more sexual, and Fakir goes the other way around. (Quite sad) The art of the anime is quite good, but always felt a little blurry around the edges to me. I like my anime to be sharp and flow with almost 3-D like quality (not 3-D movie crap) and to seem almost brand new. I know that’s a lot to ask from anime, but those are the ones that pop out to me (usually mecha anime, I find).

The plot, at times, is quite repetitive. Almost too repetitive. The first half of the show is all about finding Mytho’s heart shards and the second half is all about saving girls from the raven. It isn’t until the last episodes that a story is really fleshed out into its full scope. You are given little hints here and there along the way, but the basic format is the same. That includes the 17 second transformation sequence which I found out recently is pretty standard in these anime. There’s no such thing as a suggested action cut in anime. (Just made that phrase up.)

The characters really are great though and the anime rarely drags at any point. You watch as all the characters attempt to fight fate and the story that was written for them, with a great comment on the interaction of characters and author towards the end. Fan fiction (which was thrown around a lot while watching) slightly confused me, but I kind of get now once I’ve been told what it is. (For those who don’t know, fan fiction is fan created stories made using the characters already present in whatever the fan is interested in.) Usually used as a joke, I can definitely understand the appeal of using already created characters to bring about a story you envision yourself.

The characters are good, the art is quite good, and the plot really moves along. You usually find a favorite character (Mr. Cat) and jump along for the ride in all its ballet glory. Yes, I didn’t say anything in this review about ballet itself, but it is quite prominent in this anime. The characters don’t necessarily break out into dance, but they use dance to express, fight, and fix what is wrong. It’s all surprisingly accurate in form and referral, and I actually found myself not bored to tears when it came to the actual dancing. Every anime had its own theme and opening which gave it a unique flavor every time. I would definitely recommend this anime for the not faint of heart who can enjoy the alternative to most anime. 7.2 out of 10.


Ouran High School Host Club (Not as strange as I thought)

So recently, as I’ve been constantly doing, I watched another anime. It’s one of my girlfriend’s favorite, and I thought, hey, sure, why not? Yes, it was Ouran High School Host Club, and I was a bit confused at first. But if she hadn’t prepared me already for what was going to happen with School Rumble, I would’ve been lost beyond belief. And I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did.

So here’s the story. I feel it only holds constant for a few episodes and then the rest of the show is left to its own devices. But, I digress. Haruhi Fujioka, (Caitlin Glass) is a “commoner” student, allowed to attend Ouran Academy, a very well to do school full of the social and economic elite. Through her merit, Haruhi is allowed to attend, finds the Host Club, and embarks on an endless list of shenanigans that left me laughing with confusion. (The initial plot is that Haruhi breaks a vase that is quite expensive that the Host Club owns.)

First impressions. This show is quite homoerotic. The Hitachiin twins, (Voiced by Todd Haberkorn and Greg Ayres) Hikaru and Kaoru, give off the distinct impression of homosexual taboo incest. Played up to attract more girls, granted, but still rather hard to swallow. The comedy in this show is quite ridiculous, typical of anime, I find. (i.e. weird comic faces, strange noises, etc.) But over time, I find it to be quite funny. I always laugh when Tamaki (Vic Mignogna) mopes in a corner after facing some sort of ridicule. The comedy when it comes to Haruhi’s commoner status is hilarious, especially when the Host Club visits her at home and at the trading expo.

OH, AND DID I FORGET ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING?!?!? Haruhi, to pay back her debt to the Host Club, must dress as a boy. And although nobody else can apparently tell, she has short hair as some girls do, and is voiced by Caitlin Glass. Oh well, it’s a nice comment on the role of gender. There are a few episodes concerned with Tamaki’s and the twins’ feelings towards Haruhi,  and the discovery of Haruhi’s gender by others, but it all works out in the end. Trust me.

One thing that stands out to me about this show is the all-star American cast that voices the members of the Host Club. As I already mentioned, Caitlin Glass does a great job as Haruhi, the gender bender. Vic Mignogna, who I had the pleasure of meeting a week ago, is incredible as always as the flamboyant Tamaki. Along with the twins to round out these powerhouses, we have J. Michael Tatum as the money-crunching Kyoya, who in the end, becomes my favorite character. Honey is done fantastically by Luci Christian, a voice she also uses for Tenma from School Rumble. And last, but not least, Travis Willingham creates an amazing dynamic character with his “Hmm’s” and “Ahhh’s” and “Ahem’s” as Mori, Honey’s “protector.”

And if it wasn’t good enough, the guest appearances by voice actors like Aaron Dismuke, Christopher Sabat, (AMAZING) and Brina Palencia, it makes for an episode by episode guest star that is hard to top for any show. Yes, I quite enjoy voice actors and love following their bodies of work.

The humor’s great, the voice acting is superb, and the guys are metrosexual. What more could you ask for from an anime? Definitely 8 out of 10.