Saturday, October 29, 2011

HAIBANE RENMEI [Complete Series]

GUEST REVIEW BY rocklobster - thanks for submitting!


In a long-forgotten walled town, humans coexist with the Haibane, angelic-like beings of unknown origin. Rakka becomes the newest Haibane, after she awakens from a strange dream and finds herself hatching from a massive cocoon. With no memories of her previous life, Rakka struggles to adjust to her new surroundings, however burning questions remain in the back of her mind. What is Haibane and what is their purpose? What lies beyond the huge, forbidden town walls? Thus, Rakka begins her wistful journey of self-discovery and wonderment.
(From the backcover of Haibane Renmei, vol.1)
[NOTE: This review is of the entire series, but the cover art is of the first volume].

Original Japanese Title: Haibane Renmei
Dubbed by: Geneon
Animation: Radix
Manga adaption?: none (Hope_In_Song NOTE: Actually, this WAS a manga first before an anime, but I don't think it's licensed in the states).
Rating: 13+, but I'd say 7+

{I, the reviewer, give 10 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

This series takes place in a walled town called Glie, where humans and angelic creatures called Haibane coexist. The story is done from the point of view of Rakka, a new arrival to the Haibane. Through her eyes, we learn about the people and the Haibane, and the mysteries surrounding them and the town itself. She also comes to see them as a surrogate family, thanks primarily to Reki, a Haibane who seems very motherly towards her.

If you want a story with lots of action, this isn't for you. It's more for someone who wants to relax and let the story evolve and meet all the characters. This anime takes a real amount of patience at first, but with 13 episodes, when things get going, they get going fast.

Recommend?
YES! This anime is very beautiful and very rewarding. The backdrops are very realistic. For example, the town is powered by windmills, and you can actually see every brick on them! The colors are very vivid and everything has a pleasant feel to it. There's not much story in the early goings, but once you get to episode 5, the story really begins to pick up and you get to see some of the mystery being revealed.

[VIEWING PLEASURE]

[MUSIC] The music is very relaxing, especially the opening theme, "Freebird", a dreamy violin piece that sets the mood very well.

[SUB VS. DUB] I'd say either one works excellent. The dub managed to get a very good cast and the VA for Rakka sounds very close to the original voice.

[MOVIES/MANGA] None
(Hope_In_Song NOTE: As I mentioned, there actually IS a manga for this, but whether or not it's licensed is uncertain).

[RELATED TITLES] Yoshitoshi Abe, the main animator, has also worked on Niea_7, Serial Experiments Lain, and Tehnolyze

[DVD EXTRAS] textless opening and ending, along with character sheets and an interview with Yoshitoshi Abe.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE] Reki does say a few curse words, but that's it.

[TOBACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE] Reki is quite a chain smoker.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY] None, except in the opening sequence when we see Rakka in the fetal position, but she's covered up nicely. Besides, she's too young for you to see anything anyway.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE] The only blood occurs in episode 1, when Rakka gets her wings for the first time. They burst through her back, causing lots of pain.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL] While the Haibane do look like angels, it's never explicitly stated that they are actually angels. It's implied that they were once alive (in fact, each Haibane suffers from amnesia of their previous lives. They do not remember their names or anything else from their pasts. All they have from their past is a dream, which becomes the inspiration for their names.

*EPISODE LIST*
Volume One: New Feathers
1."Cocoon — Dream of Falling from the Sky — Old Home"
2. "Town and Wall — Toga — Haibane-Renmei"
3. "Temple — The Communicator — Pancakes"
4. "Trash Day — Clock Tower — Birds Flying Over the Walls"
Volume Two: Wings of Sorrow
5. "Library — Abandoned Factory — Beginning of the World"
6. "End of Summer — Rain — Loss"
7. "Scar — Illness — Arrival of Winter"
Volume Three: Free Bird
8. "The Bird"
9. "Well — Rebirth — Riddle"
10. "Kuramori — Haibane of Abandoned Factory — Rakka's Job"
Volume Four: Day of Flight
11. "Parting — Darkness in the Heart — Irreplaceable Thing"
12. "Bell Nuts — Passing of the Year Festival — Reconciliation"
13. "Reki's World — Prayer — Epilogue"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

FUTURE DIARY, VOL.1


Yukiteru is a quiet boy who spends most of his time typing on his cell phone diary. One morning he realizes that the entries in his diary are from the future! But according to what his cell phone tells him, waiting in the near future is his death. Unknown to him, Yukiteru has been dragged into a battle of survival involving cell phones that tell the future. With a shady girl named Yuno, who may be friend or foe, at his side, Yukiteru must face 12 opponents who all posses Future Diaries.
(Amazon.com description of Future Diary Vol.1)

Manga-Ka: Sakae Esuno
Distributor: TokyoPop
Format: Right-to-left
Rating: Older Teen

{I, the reviewer, give Future Diary vol.1, 9 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

I've been interested in this title ever since my friend reviewed it on her blog. The title sounded interested and so did the premise, and finally I asked my friend if she could lend it to me. And thus, results in a review of the first volume of this suspenseful story!

Yukiteru is a boy who lives his life as "just a bystander". He uses his cell phone to keep a diary and writes down various things he sees happening all around him. To keep from being too lonely, he talks to someone whom he assumes is just in his imagination, Dues ex Machina, the God of Time and Space. Dues tells him that he plans on starting a game, a "fun" game. Yuki senses he doesn't really like that, that Dues is up to something. The next day when he wakes up he sees that his diary is written for the whole day. At first, he doesn't realize that these are from the future until he sees them happening. At first, he starts enjoying this, since he has a heads up of what's going on and the answrs for the test!

Well, that's until Dues tells him that if the phone is destroyed, so will he. And he receives a Dead End Notice. Running for his life, he meets a girl named Yuno who also is a diary holder. Unlike his diary that tells the random things he sees everyday, her diary keeps track of everything he does, as she calls it the "Yukiteru Diary of Love". Well...turns out this girl's been stalking him! But she may be his only hope to survive. Dues explains the rules of the game to all diary holders, telling them this is a SURVIVAL GAME. The last one standing will become Deus's successor. So in order to get this power, the diary holders will seek each other out until only one of them is left.

I have to say, this was an INTENSE RIDE! Even holding a diary that predicts your future still holds so much uncertainty. Like when they do something opposite of the diary, it would rewrite. Being uncertain whether or not they can escape the set future that their diary fortells. The lengths the other diary holders will go to kill off the competition to gain ultimate power. I have to be honest that I didn't really like Dues from the start. Something was wrong about him, and it turned out to be true! God of Time and Space? More like an evil demon entity to me is the vibe I get from him. So now Yukiteru, who's lived his life as just "a bystander", will have to try and survive this crazy game. It becomes hard to trust, since you never know if they're out to kill you. He's seemed to ally himself with Yuno, the girl obsessed with him. But are there any other allies he can trust?

The art isn't anything outstanding or special, but fits the story well. I especially loved the way their eye expressions are in certain intense situations. I keep thinking to myself that this series would make an EXCELLENT anime series. Overall, I found the series to be intense, causing you to feel on the edge of your seat. If still frames such as manga can do that to you, then obviously the story it's doing it's job! It's well written and executed and I am excited to see how this all pans out!

Recommend?
Sure! If you're looking for an intense ride, pick this up!

I certify this *MANGA NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it's an intense action story that is thoroughly explained leaving little confusion. It uses concept of time travel (having a diary that fortells the future) and trying to survive 'till the story ends, which is something most of us are familiar with.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
There was some language, mostly minor. I think I recall one use of "b" though.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
I don't think there was any.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
The first scene you see is Yuno kissing Yuki. The worst it gets is you see her kissing him and she's looming over, and the position looks kinda bad, but nothing happens other than kissing.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Being a game of survival, many of the diary holders will go to great lengths to kill their target. For example, one crazy girl sets bombs all through the school and there are various explosions. People get injured and death is mentioned. Probably the worst scene is when (SPOILER! Yuki finds his way through the land mines and pokes a dart in her eye. It's not shown, as you see the dart coming at her eye, then the next seen you see her covering it with blood trickling down, so you get the idea).

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
The one who started this game is called Deus ex Machina, the God of Time and Space. At first Yuki thought he was just someone he made up in his imagination, but it appears not so. Yuki and 11 other players have a "cell phone diary" that can look 90 days into the future. Whoever wins the survival game will take Dues ex Machina's place as ruler of time and space.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The great manga exchange - tons of reviews backed up in the que line!

So an online friend and I have started this manga exchange. We send each other titles that we either request or think the other might enjoy via mail and when we're done, we send it back. Since we're both review bloggers, doing so would not only benefit both of us, but give us a chance to get into some new series. Now, she owns A HECK OF A LOT MORE manga than I do. And so far has sent me the most (I feel like I owe her a lot for this, so I am greatful beyond greatful). I've read quite a few already, and you know what this results in? TONS OF BACKED UP REVIEWS IN THE QUE LINE! I think I'm gonna have to start taking notes instead of relying on memory for the Content Card. And since we both appear to love scary stuff, she sent me some Higurashi, Future Diary, and The Dreaming. I intend to get the reviews for these hopefully all within October! The rest will be kind of spread out. So you have A LOT to expect!

Here's to name a few of the stuff I've finished reading;

Higurashi When They Cry - Curse Killing Arc, v.1
Higurashi When They Cry - Time Killing Arc, v.1-2
Higurashi When They Cry - Abducted by Demons Arc, v.1-2
The Dreaming, v.2-3
Nabari no Ou, v.1-5
Natsume's Book of Friends, v.1-2
Fullmetal Alchemist, v.4-6

Here's the stuff I STILL need to get to/finish;

Natsume's Book of Friends, v.3
Rozen Maiden, v.2-8
Nabari no Ou, vol.6
Bakuman, vol.1-5
Millinium Actress (movie)
When They Cry (anime)
Higurashi When They Cry - Curse Killing Arc, v.2
Higurashi When They Cry - Beyond Midnight Arc, v.1-2
Future Diary, v.1-2
NG Life, v-2

Is that it? I think it is. Anyway, so expect a whole bunch of reviews later on centering around those titles.

Also, here's some other stuff I need to get to in the que;

Steins;Gate episodes 13-24
Ramen Fighter Miki - Complete Series
FMA: Brotherhood (Part 3)
Kiki's Delivery Service
Dream Saga, v.1-2
The Worlds Stops! v.2
Tegami Bachi, v.1-2
Fullmetal Alchemist, v.2-3

...and so much more. I think that's enough to look forward to for now, don't you think? Okay, that's it for now. And of course, surprise webcomic reviews will pop up here and there, as always, and maybe even some Ren'Py visual novels.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

THE ART OF FULL METAL ALCHEMIST 2


A second art book featuring the characters from the top-selling and award-winning manga series, Fullmetal Alchemist. Includes original color artwork from creator, Hiromu Arakawa--each illustration presented in sequential order with commentary from Arakawa himself. Also included are nine pages of detailed character designs for the FMA PS2 video game, plus two pages of brand new manga. Wow!

[Amazon.com Description of The Art Of Fullmetal Alchemist 2]

Artwork For: Fullmetal Alchemist [Manga]
Artist: Hiromu Arakawa
Extras: Video game designs and a 2-page manga afterword

{I, the reveiwer, give The Art Of Fullmetal Alchemist 2, 9 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

Artbooks are very useful, in my opinion. I feel that they inspire and make good references for fanart. Plus it's always nice to just gawk at them. This second collection of full-color FMA artwork is no exception. Featuring artwork from 2004 up to I think 2006 (or maybe just to 2005), this artbook is not only nice to stare at, but fun as well!

Underneath each illustration is a comment from Hiromu Arakawa herself. Sometimes they're informative, sometimes they're kinda random. You could tell she did her best to make sure the comments were as entertaining and fun to read as possible. She'll mention mistakes she made in an illustration and complain about deadlines, or sometimes have random one-liners such as "That coat sure is long..."

If you're looking for something with extreme detail in clothing and backgrounds, you won't find it here. The artwork of FMA leans more toward simplicity, but I think that is what makes these illustrations so brilliant. It doesn't try to be so flashy and overdramatic. Most of the pictures are really fun, such as childhood Ed, Al, and Winry eating watermelon, or most of the entire cast drawn as chibis stuffed in one truck. Several of the illustrations come with no background, which makes the character stand out more. But what I love most about these pictures is Arakawa-sama's coloring. Many of these illustrations are PAINTED, and you can sometimes tell when you see the brushstroke marks at the end. She also uses other coloring methods, such as Copic markers, and sometimes even digital coloring.

Probably the most fun I had out of this artbook was the 2-page manga afterward as she explained the making of this artbook. It's interesting how much is needed to be done to release a collection of illustrations. I also liked how she said she wanted this artbook to be "cheap", affordable to others since she remembers not being able to afford artbooks as a kid. Now I paid the standard 20 bucks for this thing (at least it's hardback though), but it's money well spent. But it makes me wonder how much it cost in Japan.

Another neat extra is that this also contains character designs for the PS2 video games. I didn't particularlly care for them as much, though it is interesting to see. The characters are drawn from many angles, so if you're a fan of the video games, they'd make EXCELLENT fanart reference pictures. They're roughly colored, as if not much time was spent into coloring it really, but they're just designs anyway to give you the idea.

Overall, this is a lovely collection of illustrations any fan of Fullmetal Alchemist would love. I think even people who've never read the manga would also appreciate these images. They're simple, they're fun, and somewhat comforting I think. One of these illustrations are sure to bring a smile to your face or uplift you, as there aren't too many intense images in here (not that there aren't any). Trust me, this is a fun collection to add to your manga shelves!

RECOMMENDED?
Yes! If you love images that are fun to look at, I think you'd appreciate this. The comments are witty, the coloring is gorgeous, Ed looks REALLY GOOD in many of these pictures...what more could you ask for?

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
Havoc is often seen with a cigerrette in his mouth.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Armstrong never has a shirt on. When does he ever? There's also a couple of illustrations of Ed shirtless (but he still has his red coat on his shoulders). In the game designs, a female character named Elma's "golem form" is naked, but it;s undetailed. Also there's a couple of shirtless guys in the character designs.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
There is one illustration with some blood, but nothing horrific. There's also one where it looks like Ed defeated Al in a fight and the symbol looks drawn in blood. Weapons are present, but usually not shown in use. One of the video game designs, a character is covered in blood.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
You'll see the symbol of a cross with a serpent wrapped around it a lot, since it is one of the main symbols in the series. One of the video games is called The Girl Who Surpasses God and it includes the character designs for that game in here.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(There's actually 4 chapters)