Naruto Vol. #46 Manga Review

Naruto Vol. #46 Manga Review Pain is coming to Konoha

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Masashi Kishimoto
Translation/Adaptation: Mari Morimoto

What They Say
Naruto’s friends are tested as an attempt to overthrow Tsunade begins and they must all fight – or fall. New secrets about Pain are revealed, but they only add to the mystery of his identity. As Pain commences with the final destruction of Konoha, Naruto and the Toads prepare to take him on in battle. Can Naruto save his beloved village?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The multiple Pains have descended on the Village Hidden in the Leaf and the strongest shinobi are finding that their attacks are being nullified by the strange powers this mysterious group possesses. It quickly becomes apparent the only chance that the village has for survival is if the ninja can somehow quickly break the mysterious secret to the powers that their attackers posses but that the cost to do so may be incredibly high as they must somehow both look for clues to the attackers skills while trying to survive powerful and deadly attacks long enough to relay that information back to the rest of the village’s members.

To make mattersnot all of the strongest fighters can be present on the front lines including Tsunade who is using her summoned familiar to channel heeling energy into as many of the fighters as she can while a number of members of the secret intelligence operations are desperately trying to figure out the source of power behind the Pain persona they captured which leaves a hole in both fighting ability and leadership- a hole which a traitorous cabal from Konoha looks to exploit to gain control over what is left of the village when the fighting stops.

The Pains’ goal is to track down Naruto so the Akatsuki can gain access to Nine Tails which was sealed in him and they are willing to go to any length to find him. To Pains’ consternation though they discover that Naruto is no longer considered a hated and dispensable member of the village and that the members have embraced him to the point where they would rather give up their own lives than sell him out. When all seems lost for Konoha with the casualties already high, Pain unleashes his ultimate attack which has the ability to wrack enormous damage. Will Konoha finally be crushed or will the faith of its members be rewarded by a last minute arrival of a determined youth who just may have surpassed both the previous Hokage as well as his fallen mentor?

One of the things that Masashi Kishimoto is really good at is creating a massive payoff for events that he has built up over the course of a few volumes (even if some of that building up comes off as a touch repetitive at times) and this current volume is a shining example of just how many layers he can pack into any given battle. As the village finds that Pain has brought war to them the individual battles will push some of the characters that the reader has come to be at least familiar if not fond of to their very extremes as they come up against what looks to be an invincible foe whose abilities dwarf anything they can comprehend.

The best part though of this volume is not found in the tense intrigue or even superbly illustrated battle but in the fact that Kishimoto never forgets to include the heart that he has embedded into these characters as they go about their seemingly impossible task. While it could have been easy to let the action carry events it is the individual characters stepping up for themselves and their fellow villagers that really cements this volume as special as it is the emotions on display more than any blistering action that compels the reader to feel for the current plight and gain an understanding of why they would go so far and risk so much when it would be far easier to just surrender and give up the information that the aggressor wishes.

It’s in the moments where the village fights with one goal that the title has some of its most touching moments while exemplify the underpinnings that serve as a foundation for the payoff once Naruto makes his return. Kishimoto uses this to masterfully create a perilous situation for his protagonist to enter to attempt to hold back the wave of destruction that is being unleashed and which serves as an outstanding climax to give a vent for the pent up pressures that he had subtly created in the early part of the volume. This volume is one that mixes shonen staples with heart and produces a finished product that feels so much greater than the sum of its parts.

In Summary
When Pain invades Konoha it is going to take every ounce of the combined shinobi’s skills to hope to crack the puzzle behind his abilities before he wipes out the entire village. As Pain stalks through the village leaving carnage and destruction in his wake, it showcases the dedication and devotion that the members have to their fellow villagers as the casualty list rises when each person decides that they will fight to try to protect each other rather than attempt to scurry away and hope to survive. In the midst of all though a hidden threat rises its head and it may take more than the re-appearance of one of the village’s most powerful members complete with new power to assist the village in surviving the day.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: Digital Review
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating:
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Naruto Vol. #46 Manga Review

Viz Media Talks ‘Inuyasha: The Final Act’ Complete Anime Release

Viz Media Talks ‘Inuyasha: The Final Act’ Complete Anime Release Next week brings things to a close in a sense for one of the longer running properties that Viz Media has been involved in with the complete collection release of Inuyasha: The Final Act. The show is coming out on May 26th, 2015 in both DVD and Blu-ray editions that bring together the half season sets that we had before. The show is priced at $44.82 for the DVD and $54.97 for the Blu-ray release. Both discs are the same in terms of show content, but the Blu-ray has bonus features including production and storyboard art galleries and the original Japanese broadcast trailers while the DVD just has the broadcast trailers.

“INUYASHA: THE FINAL ACT delivers the grand finale of Inuyasha and Kagome’s quest to restore the shattered Shikon Jewel,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Marketing Manager, Animation. “Longtime fans can complete their INUYASHA personal anime complete with the release of THE FINAL ACT on DVD and Blu-ray and witness the epic showdown with the evil demon, Naraku, and discover the long-awaited answer to the ultimate question of Kagome and Inuyasha’s future together!”

Plot concept: In the thrilling conclusion to this famed anime series, Kagome is an ordinary schoolgirl who finds her destiny linked to a hotheaded but brave half demon named Inuyasha and the powerful Shikon Jewel. In their quest to restore the shattered Shikon Jewel, Inuyasha and Kagome face their ultimate enemy, the demon mastermind Naraku. Kagome finds herself pulled between two worlds as she struggles to fight alongside Inuyasha in the feudal era and study for her high school entrance exams in the present. As the battle enters its final stage, Inuyasha and his friends have their strength, loyalties and will to live pushed to the limit. The final key to Naraku’s and the Jewel’s destruction may lie in nothing more – and nothing less – than the trust between a half demon and a girl from the future. All roads have led here, to one last battle and one final act!

Viz Media Talks ‘Inuyasha: The Final Act’ Complete Anime Release

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Teaser Trailer Debuts

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Teaser Trailer Debuts With the prologue in theaters through the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol screenings, Warner Bros. has smartly slid out a new trailer to start teasing about what the Dark Knight Rises will be all about so those that don’t go can get a glimpse of some of the goodness as well. HD versions are starting to crop up and you can check to see what’s available on the Apple Trailers site as well

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Teaser Trailer Debuts

Crunchyroll Adds ‘Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ For Fall 2012 Anime Lineup

Crunchyroll Adds ‘Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ For Fall 2012 Anime Lineup Crunchyroll has set another simulcast series announcement today with news that they’ll be streaming Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. The series, the third of its kind for this property, will be a new story that’s coming from Manglobe and is separate from what has come before. The show is set to start its US simulcast run on October 3rd at 2pm ET.

The series will be available to premium members on air date in the following territories – North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, and the South Pacific – and available a week later for free viewers.

Plot Concept: Kenjiro Hata, notable for creating Hayate the Combat Butler, also created the new series Hayate No Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. In this series, Hayate Ayasaki continues to work alongside Maria at the Nagi Sanzenin’s mansion. Nagi receives a call from “Area 51” inviting her to the universe but will she accept?

Crunchyroll Adds ‘Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ For Fall 2012 Anime Lineup

Bleach Chapter #648 Manga Review

Bleach Chapter #648 Manga Review And a wild Ichigo was spotted!

Creative Staff:
Story/Art: Tite Kubo

What They Say:
Ichigo Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghost – he was born with the gift. When his family is attacked by a Hollow- a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured spirits themselves find peace.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When you have as expansive a cast as you have with Bleach it doesn’t take much going on to lose sight of your main cast. Of course, Bleach excels at running a lot of subplots at the same time and spreading itself out so that it can go on for awhile, making it a double-edged sword depending on situation and characters of interest. This chapter does continue its focus on both Lille and Shunsui, which is a big plus, but it also dips us back to Ichigo himself and a few others briefly. Having only really reconnected with the manga less than ten chapters ago it certainly feels like forever for me since I really saw Ichigo, as my last real time wsa with the end of the anime. So getting something new with the character is pleasant, even if only briefly.

Getting a little prologue with Ichigo is definitely nicely done as we get him running about to his next encounter only to end up stumbling across someone else from the other said. Owing to good manners, he’s introduced as Askin Nakk le Vaar, who had apparently faced off (and defeated) Grimmjow recently. That certainly adds an air of unease to Ichigo since that means there’s definitely some power involved here, but all of that has to get shunted to the side as the nature of the area is suddenly changing. This is pretty nicely done since it has to convey the atmosphere as the spiritual pressure increases and there’s a dark sense about things that comes from Shunsui’s bankai power. Ichigo knows what it is and that’s a huge, huge, red flag as to what’s going on elsewhere and just how high the stakes are.

The bulk of the chapter is focused on what Shunsui and Lille are going through as the two continue to face off. We’ve seen things being pushed back against Shunsui while knowing that he’s likely just getting things in place for what he wants to do. And with his bankai in full effect we get to see that kind of pressure and how it seemingly doesn’t have any impact on Lille, which makes Lille even more confident and cockier. But seeing the truth of what Shunsui’s able to do and the nature of his power makes for a really solid turning point in the battle between them. There’s some really nicely laid out pages here that sets the tone well with the backgrounds making it feel more a part of things, especially since of the scale aspects with how Lille’s attacks work. It’s certainly not as richly detailed as it could be but it definitely clicks well when combined with what we get from Ichigo’s smaller sequence.

In Summary:
While I enjoyed this installment just for reconnecting with Ichigo and getting a few others gracing the panels ever so briefly, the main attraction is definitely still all about the Shunsui and Lille fight. With it having shifted away from exposition and rules to actual encounters it’s definitely moving well and fast here with a quick scaling up of who can do what. It’s no surprise to see Lille believing he has the upper hand based on his background and knowledge of his own abilities, but the discounting of things like the bankai – which he admits he has no knowledge of its abilities – is just a dangerously foolish move. There’s a good sense of style about this installment, helped by my own happiness at seeing more backgrounds or stage settings at least, but a lot of what drives it is just Shunsui feeling like he’s right at that tipping point with just being done with all of this.

Grade: B

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media via Weekly Shonen Jump’s ComiXology Release
Release Date: October 26th, 2015
MSRP: $0.99

Bleach Chapter #648 Manga Review

Blue Drop Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

Blue Drop Complete Collection Anime DVD Review Life goes by as always as humanity is unaware it’s about to be invaded by a dying race of alien women. Hot women. In skimpy skintight outfits.

What They Say:
When Mari Wakatake arrives at the gate of the exclusive Kaihou Academy, she is a girl without a past. Five years earlier, something happened to her. Something that took the lives of her parents and every other human on Kamioki Island then wiped her mind clean of even memories. But if Mari’s past is an unknown nightmare, her future may soon become even more terrifying.Because while she was the sole human survivor, there is something else that lived through that same night, and her path is about to cross Mari’s again. Something in a female skin has invaded Kaihou Academy, and Mari is its target. The subjugation of Earth has begun, and the heart of one young woman may be the key to our race’s ultimate salvation or damnation.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series gives us a monolingual release in that we get a good stereo mix of the Japanese language track encoded at 224kbps and that’s it. The series is mostly a dialogue piece as most episodes focus on the day to day lives of the girls at school, but the action sequences when they do come up have a bit more impact to them and utilize the soundstage better. The dialogue scenes work well too though most of them only have one person talking at a time and there isn’t a whole lot of depth to be found during it. It’s a good solid mix overall that serves the material well and it’s free of problems such as hiss, distortions, and dropouts.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show has thirteen episodes spread across two discs in the slightly unusual format of six/seven. Blue Drop has a good clean look to it though there are some areas where it feels a little soft intentionally to create a mood. Colors have a good look to them throughout with only some scenes, such as a sunset, showcasing a bit more noise than you’d normally see. Line noise is very minimal during panning sequences and there’s just a hint or two of cross coloration in a particularly busy scene. Blue Drop doesn’t intend to be a strong visual show so it plays with softer colors throughout, but when it wants to do vibrant colors such as the purple on the ships, it does so very well as they stand out beautifully. There’s very little to really do more than nitpick with here and fans of the show will likely be pleased by what they see.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this series uses a good piece of artwork from the original Japanese releases by having Hagino and Mari reaching across to each other, hand in hand, while the Blue ship is behind them moving across the water. The light background draws all the attention to the characters and the ship while the shades of blue help to give it a bit more definition. The Japanese logo is also a really good one as it uses the title along with the Earth itself in an eye-catching way. The back cover keeps to the same light shades of blue and white as it has some design artwork in the background while the foreground is given over to more color. Slim shots from the show are done up along the sides of the cast while the middle has a decent summary of the overall premise. There’s also more good larger character artwork here along with another shot of the ship that looks a bit more like a whale than the front cover angle does. Production information is clean and clear to read and the technical grid covers everything very well though it does list the show as being in 5.1 when it’s a stereo mix. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu layout for Blue Drop is rather straightforward as it uses some of the futuristic designs from the back cover of the series as its background here while placing different pieces of character artwork on each volume. It’s a simple menu design with some nice moody instrumental music that plays along for about half a minute before looping back again. The lower middle section of the menu features the navigation strip which allows for top-level access of each episode as well as dipping into the special features section. Because of this being a monolingual release, no language selection menu is available but you can turn subtitles off on the fly during regular playback. Everything loads quickly and smooth and because of its monolingual nature our players’ presets weren’t an issue at all.

Extras:
The extras are made up of the clean versions of the opening and closing sequence as well as a really nice little gallery of full colors pieces of artwork. Some look to be from the Japanese DVD releases while others are conceptual pieces of artwork of the various ships.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the world created in the two short form manga series by Akihito Yoshitomi, Blue Drop is a thirteen episode series with some rather mild yuri overtones to it simply because it’s an all-girls cast at an all girls school. What makes this series interesting is that it isn’t an adaptation of an existing manga but rather serves as a prequel story to it as the events here are before the war between humanity and the Arume. The manga material takes place after the war, which is what the bookend periods of the show deal in for about a minute at the start of the series and for a minute at the end of it.

Blue Drop takes place in a present-day world where we’re introduced to high school senior Mari Wakatake. Her life has just been upended as she’s being forced from living with her grandmother to living at one of the dorms at Kaio Academy, a somewhat privileged place where very few people without some money behind them go. Mari is completely against it and can’t understand why her grandmother is doing this. Unfortunately, her grandmother is keeping a secret from her that she’s close to dying so she doesn’t want to be a burden on Mari and wants her to get on with her life.

Mari’s life has not been easy and we learn that she’s never even been in school, at least according to her memory. Some five years prior, Mari was the sole survivor of an incident on Kamioki island where all eight hundred or so residents died mysteriously in an unexplained natural disaster. Only it wasn’t truly a natural disaster as when the bodies were discovered, half of the people had died before the water hit and the majority of them appeared to have been murdered in various and cruel ways. Because of the incident, Mari lost her parents and her memory of what happened, so it’s understandable that another big change in her life is causing her to act like quite a petulant child.

Much of the series focuses on Mari’s integration into the school where she befriends a girl named Michiko. Michiko isn’t like most of the girls in the school as she’s a local who was accepted there without much money, but it’s interesting that the other kids don’t come across as fabulously wealthy. They’re a little snobbish and they don’t talk to Michiko at all and Mari finds herself in the same boat, though she doesn’t want to talk to anyone whereas Michiko wants to be a part of things. The dorm that Mari lives in has a small cast of cute characters to it that help flesh things out, but nothing that delves all that deeply though we do get some nice small moments of knowing some of them. Where Mari has things go really wrong is when one of the most popular and respected girls in the school, Hagino, starts to take an interest in her. An interest that initially has her trying to strangle her.

The story of Hagino is the real focus though it’s one that plays out in two different ways. One of them is the aforementioned integration as Hagino ends up being taken by Mari and that causes all sorts of issues. Mari and Hagino, at least in my eyes, have a very strong friendship born here, almost a sisterly love rather than a pure romantic love. What complicates it is that Hagino is actually a commander in the advance fleet that’s come to investigate Earth. Or that’s at least what Hagino was told and believes as the fleet is actually testing out things before its invasion of the world, as her people – the Arume – are close to extinction and they need Earth to continue on. The science fiction elements often feel very out of place here because it lacks a kind of internal consistency to make it work. So many resources are put out in order to eliminate a rogue ship from the advance fleet – a rogue ship that’s in very rough shape – and they have a nearly impossible time doing it. Yet they’re going to invade the world?

The visual design of Blue Drop is fairly standard school material as we get the private-ish academy that’s set off in the woods outside a town that’s fallen on rough times. The locales look good if indistinct overall (and I love backgrounds that put business phone numbers as 123-456-7890) and the school itself works well though it lacks anything that really distinguishes itself. The Arume side of the show doesn’t make out as good in some ways as it plays more for fanservice than being anywhere near functional. The advance fleet has costumes that are basically silvery white swimsuits and they have no obvious issues with it. Only the command level characters seem to wear anything more than this and really doesn’t look good for the cast. The ship designs themselves are interesting, especially where we see Blue moving through the ocean like a dolphin as it introduces a neat design idea, but with the general scheme being all about gray, silver and purple, the ships really aren’t all that compelling. The megabomber moment is another example of this as it looks like one of the ships drops a massive metallic egg which takes you out of the show completely, never mind the sheer overkill of the story moment itself.

In Summary:
Blue Drop left me rather uncertain about it overall. After watching it, I went and read up on the original manga for reference and that material seems like it’s far more interesting as it deals with the war and invasion itself, as well as a story taking place after the war. This prequel to all of it has some interesting moments, but it doesn’t seem to know how to tell it in a compelling way. The concept of an alien invasion working this way isn’t bad, it offers some fun ways of dealing with it, but it gets stuck with overly dramatic moments that don’t connect well for the viewer. Subplots lack impact and much time is spent on the scholastic side. Both stories can be told well at the same time, but it waffles too much between figuring out which one it really wants to focus on. In the end, this series left me really wanting to read the manga more than anything else as I wanted to see the invasion, the war and the aftermath of it all rather than the lead up to it.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promotional Video, Japanese TV Spot, Art Gallery, Clean Opening & Clean Closing

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 17th, 2009
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Blue Drop Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

CW Adds ‘Arrow’ & ‘Beauty And The Beast’ For Fall 2012 Series

CW Adds ‘Arrow’ & ‘Beauty And The Beast’ For Fall 2012 Series The CW is working through its announcements with what to expect for new dramas this fall, and some renewals, but on the new front for the genre fans we’ve got a pair of series that have made the cut. First up is the completely expected to make the cut title Arrow, which comes from Warner Bros. TV in order bring the Green Arrow character and some form of superhero to the small screen. The new series comes from executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg and David Nutter. It’ll star Stephen Amell as the lead, Oliver Queen.

In addition to that, CW has announced the pickup of the reboot for Beauty And The Beast. This series comes from CBS Television Studios and brings Kristin Kreuk back to the network she got semi-famous on after her run in Smallville.

[Souce: Deadline ]

CW Adds ‘Arrow’ & ‘Beauty And The Beast’ For Fall 2012 Series