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Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2 (anime review)

Muv - Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2Title: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2

Director: Masaomi Ando

Written By: Takayuki Inagaki

Studio: ixtl, Satelight

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 12th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Mecha, Sci Fi, Action, Romance, Fan Service

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Even in the face of annihilation by the invading BETA forces, the persistent hostilities between the surviving nations continue to undermine mankind’s chances for survival. Desperate to gain the Type 99, the Soviet Command puts not only their own pilots but the rest of the human race on the firing line as they sabotage the Kamchatka base self-destruct codes in an attempt to salvage the railgun for their own purposes.

Caught in the crossfire, Yuuya, Yui, and the other TSF pilots must fight their way to safety through a nightmarish series of traps and counter-traps before the base is bombed or the BETA take them all. Only a series of heroic sacrifices can save them, and that’s just the beginning of the danger. The mysterious arrival of an unidentified TSF and an escalating competition to dominate the new world’s power and military structures ignite a new chain of events that further threaten to undercut humanity’s chances.

Commentary:

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2 follows up with the end of the series that proves that sometime you can mix fan service with a darker mecha and see it succeed to a reasonable result. I’ve see plenty of other series take a much more ecchi approach and miss the mark. Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse manages to give us a story only get distracted by bouncing boobs a little. Of course the girls are highlighted changing into their pilot suites in a way that highlights their endowments which left me a little disappointed.

Now I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the female form, on the contrary, I find women delightful but when you are trying to tell a serious story I find the distraction of fan service is misplaced. If we can get past the tight suites and partial nudity the story still needs to stand on its own. This is where the animation may be the saving grace and the writing comes across as something a little more pedestrian.

Overall Grade: B-

I was very hopeful for Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2 and discovered that some stories should stick to one focus. Being a genuine fan of any solid Sci Fi stories that can entertain I found myself getting sucked into the series and then tossed back out. The unevenness of the story and the overall flatness if the writing left me wanting something completely different.

I am confident that the series will retain its true fan base and sell plenty of copies. I also thought that the series looked good and on Blu-ray it stood out with a relative higher quality than I see in other series lately. So, if the sexy mecha is your bag then you should head on over and start with Muv-Luv from the beginning.

Nobunaga The Fool Collection 1(anime review)

Nobunaga The Fool Collection 1Title: Nobunaga The Fool: Collection 1 on Blu-ray

Director: Eiichi Sato

Writer: Shoji Kawamori

Studio: Satelight

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 28th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 13 episodes / 325 minutes

Genre: Mecha, Action, Drama, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Long ago, in an age when the cosmos was still known as Chaos, the world was split into two planets, forming the West and East Stars. After years of war and strife, the Western Star has finally become united under a single king, the legendary Arthur. But conflict still threatens to consume all until hope arises in a vision: a vision of a champion who could save the futures of both worlds.

Setting forth on a dangerous journey, Joan d’Arc must travel from the West world to the East, seeking the man she believes can use the devices of the great Leonardo Da Vinci and become their savior. But will Nobunaga Oda be the kind of man they are expecting? Will history’s greatest heroes find themselves choosing not a liberator, but a destroyer? Or is Nobunaga’s role that of the Fool from a deck of Tarot, the wild card whose purpose is to invoke change, no matter what the cost?

Commentary:

It is great to see the Mecha genre having a bit of a revival and maybe even a renaissance. Nobunaga The Fool takes this literally by introducing historical figures from both the far east and the western cultures divided by worlds not just simple geographical lines on a map. These cultures get to play out a rather interesting battle to see if there is a true Savior King who will save both worlds not just their own. Of course we have king Arthur on the western worlds guiding light and the young and inexperienced Nobunaga for the East to maintain a brash arrogance that represents some level of true grit.

I do like the touch of having these mechanical armor to wield, but so far it has not gotten to any viable explanation on how they power them other than the magical lay lines or dragon lines / earth forces. This aspect comes out a little weak in the story, but that is of no real significance to the series of its value as a solid anime. I guess that if I were to question the physics of anime then most of the great Sci Fi / Mecha series would fall apart rather quickly. It’s not like we question the force in Star Wars so why question the dragon lines in Nobunaga The Fool.

The real strength of the series is the way that these strong characters enter act and develop. For Nobunaga it is obvious from the very beginning that he is something of a adventurist and not concerned with the politics that exists in his fathers world. he is also very crude and undisciplined. In the Japanese voice over with english subtitled version he comes across a little more subdued than he does in the English dub. With that in mind I can easily say that I prefer the brash young man in the English dub. He doesn’t mix words and can even offend in a single word. This plan in your face approach is well suited to his character and in many ways helps save the series from its own heaviness.

Overall Grade: B+

I don’t always gravitate toward mecha series, but it seems that as of late many of them are of a higher quality and have given me a reason to watch out for them. Nobunaga The Fool proves to be one of these series that keeps the action going without a severe amount of repetition. There is also a slick approach to the story that keep the two groups at odds but at the same time interesting in their own right. I know that the story doesn’t compare to Full Metal Panic, but there is something about the series that I like and it reminds of my fondness to the way the characters became well like in the FMP classic.

I am very interested to see how this series ends up and I hope that they just take it higher from here. It can be very easy to screw this up and I have seen it happen all too many time. So, Nobunaga The Fool has a real chance at become something even better lets just hope that the writers don’t give up on the remainder of the story. If you like history or historical figures put in crazy stories you will really like Nobunaga The Fool, I know I do.

Fairy Tail Collection 3 (anime review)

Fairy Tail Collection 3

review provide by Luther

Title: Fairy Tail Collection 3 Blu-ray/DVD Combo

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Studio: A-1 Pictures and Satelight

U. S. Distributor: FUNimation

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 6th, 2015

Genre: Magical Adventure and Comedy

Format: DVD/Blu-ray Combo, 600 minutes, 24 episodes

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The last battle was over and Laxus was kicked out of the Fairy Tail Guild, but other members of the Thunder legion have stayed. Now Juvia has stayed as part of the guild, sporting a great new look. Master is still considering leaving, but everyone wants him to stay.
Lucy hadn’t won the Mis Fairy Tail pageant, so she is still looking for a way to pay her rent. When a reporter from Sorcerers’ Weekly comes to do a story, Lucy is hoping that fate is coming her way (in the form of money and romance) and it is time for her big break. The reporter is an enthusiastic fan boy, who is so excited that he continually spouts words like Cool! and Amazing! She does meet a new guy but when someone puts it in her head that she ought to be with Natsu, she begins to read that possibility into almost everything. She is getting embarrassed around him and her thoughts are going crazy.

Juvia is in love with Gray and gets a love potion from a not-so-great shop. It doesn’t go the way she expected and now all of the guys are getting all macho and challenging new rivals. The whole guild hall is in a tizzy.

Lucy’s father shows up. He’s broke and is now traveling to a merchant guild to join. She doesn’t really want anything to do with him, but when she hears that something bad has happened at that guild, she find herself stepping in to help.

The dark guilds have become more active. The light guilds need to stand together. A coalition of magical guilds forms an Allied Force to confront the Orashion Seisu, which is posing a serious threat. Fairy Tail sends Lucy, Natsu, Gray and Erza. They meet the other ally members, which includes The Blue Pegasus team of 3 very charming guys, and from another guild, a kid named Wendy who is a blue haired  girl with a companion, a flying cat named  Carla.

The Orashion Seisu is seeking to release the magic of Nirvana. Part of its destructive power is the ability to change someone who is wavering on the lines of good and evil away from their co nature. As the coalition allied force attempts to stop them, the Orashion Seisu is plowing through them. Erza is the most seriously hurt and is close to death. Wendy and Happy are kidnapped, it seems her type of magic can be the key to resurrect a wizard to unleash Nirvana. The allied force splits up in search of Wendy only to be confronted by minor dark guilds in big numbers.

Nirvana continues its march to destroy Wendy’s guild along with a dark secret. Team Natsu and the coalition – as well as an unexpected ally – go full-force against the top sorcerers of Oracion Seis to expel the ancient city’s evil curse before it becomes unstoppable!
Then, when Natsu goes on a mission to see a woman about a dragon, his trip becomes a trap that could force him to turn Magnolia into ash and rubble! Can his friends snuff the Salamander’s involuntary rampage without torching their friend?

Commentary:

Fairy Tail is an anime that can appeal to a wide audience and I am thankful that is dubbed because that keeps it available to everyone. It has a little of something to fill most wish lists. There is lots of creativity with this anime, seemingly endless on the various wizards characters and their different magic, as well as in the locations and story lines. Occasionally, I thought it was getting a bit formulaic in spots. For example, with the overwhelming foes that they end up beating, but wait, they aren’t quite down yet. There is plenty of dramatic or intense moments, that are woven together with slapstick and silly times. My favorite comedic moment is when Happy answers the question to why he is blue.

One area of strength for Fairy Tail is its cast. It continues to grow. There are plenty of cute characters to go around. I can see that after looking back, there is lots of character growth. They are all getting stronger and developing their skills. Even the relationships are building. Lucy seems to really star in many of the episodes and although she down plays her importance, she has grown the most. Natsu is stronger, but his impulsiveness is his weakness. Some of the characters, especially the villains have some odd characteristics or qualities that only seem to serve the purpose to be odd. Odd for the sake of odd was distracting, memorable yes, but not a plus for the series. One last note on characters, dead people aren’t always dead.

I really enjoy the art work and details. The color alway looks great  and well planned. The visuals match the creativity of the story, the endless ideas and the cool magic techniques are portrayed skillfully. The special effects are great. Since there are all these different types of magic and power, they keep producing new ways to show them. Take time to listen to the music, it does a great job at supporting the story and action.

Fairy Tail continues to deliver a great product. They keep upping their game and still maintain the quality of the story content and action. It is one of those anime that is fun to watch again.  It has definitely gotten to the point where you have to see what happens next.

It is very typical for Fairy Tail to load itself up with action. but this set is overflowing. I was truly assented with how fast this set moves. From the battles with the Oracion Seis to the potential destruction of Magnolia the episodes speed past and leave you breathing heavy at the end.

Well at least they are lots of fun. While watching these episodes I found myself thinking about other long running shonen series and how they always end up on the goofy lead character who manages to sustain themselves in pure righteous indignation and always take up the armor of love and friendship to help defend against the evils that would threaten their families. Several times I saw Naruto saying “Believe It” and then Ichigo going on about friendship but it wasn’t until at one point when the relationships slipped into the classic Naruto vs Sasuke love/hate thing that I almost turned it off. I stuck it out and was not disappointed. I’m sure everyone who watches will see what I am talking about when you reach that point. I guess the point I am trying to make is that even though the plot and structure of the story may be tried and true I guess that it is the way that these characters help bring it together that makes the difference.

Overall Personal Rating: A-

When it is all said and done the final question is if this is fun and entertaining? In the case of these 24 episodes I have to say yes, very much so. I think the only detractor that I have is that the creative staff and even Mashima and Sogo have made Lucy way too much of a wussy. I get that she still lacks a high degree of self-confidence, but she doesn’t need top be that weak. She has plenty of power and to be a full member of the team she needs to be stronger. Other than that I think that Fairy Tail Collection 3 is simply put, just fun.

Any time you can build a full blooded series on top of friendship and love it is almost impossible to miss as long as you are able to keep it moving. Fairy Tail has done that so far and I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the 175 episodes. Still 103 more to go.

Fairy Tail part 14 (anime review)

Fairy Tail part 14Title: Fairy Tail 14

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Studio: A-1 Pictures, Satelight

Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

American Release Date: Dec. 2nd, 2014

Genre: Supernatural, Adventure, Comedy

Format: DVD/Blu-ray Combo, 275 minutes, 11 episodes

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

The Grand Magic Games is a yearly competition that pits guild against guild in a weeklong battle for the honor of being called the most powerful wizards in the Fiore Kingdom. Fairy Tail may have come in last place for the past seven tournaments, but now that all their strongest members are back in action – and leveled-up – they’re determined to take the number one spot and rebuild their reputation!

Winning the games won’t be easy, though, as Natsu and his selected teammates are forced to navigate enchanted labyrinths, battle wizard saints, and go head-to-head with a host of familiar faces. But with more than one guild targeting Fairy Tail before the competition even begins, the guildmates will be lucky if they even make it out of the opening ceremonies alive.

Commentary:

Fairy Tail is back with a new arc and it seems as though placing them in a situation where they consistently have to battle to prove themselves is more entertaining that other struggles they had to go through. I feel like there is a very heavy hand pushing the difference that 7 years makes. Funny thing about 7 years it isn’t even a quarter of a generation but, based on the level of wizard power you would think they were frozen for 100 years. The friction plays well, but it also comes across a little odd and at times rather awkward.

There is one other thing about this set and the plot line of this arc that saddened me was the return to making a certain individual the focus of attention by the antagonist. I have become tired of seeing similar plot devices from Fairy Tail and it points to a place that tells me that the writer is getting burned out. Now I’m not saying that the action and comedy fails me, but instead it is the way these stories begin to look very similar and basically the same plot woven into a different settings.

Overall Grade: B

Fairy Tail is a solid series with plenty of great characters. This plot is a little tiring and somewhat lacking in creativity and frustrating from time to time. I did enjoy these 11 episodes and am looking forward to the rect of the story. Of course I really want to know what is behind the door. I know it is not unusual for shonen series to follow a somewhat typical progression, but Fairy Tail had made some great strides and recreating the fantasy fighting world and it is very possible that it will again get back on the path of giving us something more entertaining than a magic games and a dark guild after a certain celestial wizard in order to get to a power they should not wield.

Ok, Funimation bring on part 15.

Fairy Tail parts 12 & 13 (anime review)

Fairy Tail part 13Title: Fairy Tail Parts 12 & 13 Blu-ray/DVD Combo

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Studio: A-1 Pictures, Satelight

Distributor: FUNimation

American Release Date: Oct. 28th, 2014

Genre: Supernatural,  Adventure, Comedy

Format: DVD/Blu-ray Combo, 600 minutes, 24 episodes

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Using a book from the Heartfilia library as a guide, the members of Fairy Tail split up to track down pieces of the Infinity Clock – a legendary enchanted item that could have the power to bring ruin to the entire world. Standing in their way is a secret order of wizards known as the Legion Platoon, who don’t trust the magic time bomb in the hands of the notoriously destructive guild. As the clock ticks closer to doomsday, an old enemy – Oracion Seis – is reborn in a terrifyingly powerful new form. This dark guild has its own plans for the magical timepiece, and if Fairy Tail and the Legion Platoon can’t stop them from using the catastrophic clock, time could be up for the Fiore Kingdom.

Oracion Seis has kidnapped Lucy and is using her to power a clock capable of spreading catastrophic magic cross the world. If Fairy Tail doesn’t stop the dark guild, the entire Fiore Kingdom will fall into a waking nightmare and their teammate will merge with the enchanted timepiece forever. But Oracion Seis isn’t the only group of wizards standing in their way: the Legion Platoon has decided that to save the world, they’ll destroy the magic clock – and Lucy.

While Fairy Tail fights with all their power to rescue their teammate, the truth about Michelle comes to light and a devastating deception is exposed. When the clock begins to chime reality descends into chaos, and in the end Natsu and his fellow wizards might be too late.

Commentary:

Fairy Tail clearly understands what it take to be a long lasting series that can keep the fans interested, but it also falls into the trap that seems to take the fandom for granted. In these twenty four episodes there is a classic trap of relying on the basic aspects of the series to carry it through. This particular arc is something of a rehash of the original Oracion Seis arc and I’m not real sure why they were made the focus of the antagonist. Why not come up with another set of dark guild? I guess it was easy to revive some old foes to fight. The funny thing is that there really wasn’t much of a fight.

Just because I was not entertained by the plot doesn’t mean that these episodes aren’t fun to watch. In fact I found this group to be very funny and entertaining. The writing was slightly above par for the series and some of the gags really stood out for me. For a series like Fairy Tail this is key and is a testament to its longevity.

Overall Grade: B

I think that if there had been a new foe this arc would have stood out as one of the best yet. Bringing back the Oracion Seis really fail the franchise and almost ruined this arc. Overall though, it is clear that the writing is still at the top of it’s game. As the episodes flow they hit at the right moments and keep the laughs coming. There is also a wonder lack of expanded battles. Most of them end up being less frustrating than what is typically found. Unlike One Piece and even Naruto, Fairy Tail takes what is best of those two world and manages to pull it together at one time. Were One Piece is totally meaning less, Fairy Tail provides enough story to keep it going. Naruto ends up taking itself way to serially and Fairy Tail knows that being self deprecating can be a true asset and manages to play along nicely.

I think this group of episodes will prove to be a hit with the fans and continue the strength of the franchise. I just wish the series wasn’t rolled out in 12 episode installments.