One Piece movie Collection 02

One Piece Movie Collection 02

Anime Reporter takes a look at a true triple threat now, One Piece movie Collection 02, made up of One Piece films 4-6. As these films are all available as part of a collection, I’ll be giving my individual take on each film, but the final verdict will reflect all three films together.

One Piece movie 4 Dead End Adventiure 01 Usopp Nami Luffy Tony Chopper Sanji

All three films come in Japanese with English subtitles.

One Piece Film 04: the Adventure of Dead End

Unlike the One Piece film, Strong World, which I recently reviewed, this Collection is in the perfect place for fans who are keeping pace with the Manga UK DVD releases of the One Piece series. As the first movie of the collection, The Adventure of Dead End, starts off, Tony Tony Chopper and Nico Robin are on board and the main references to the series are the names Arlong and Crocodile, which should date the film pretty well.

One Piece movie 4 Dead End Adventiure 03 Luffy Usopp Sanji

Things begin as you might expect, with the Strawhat crew dodging marines and generally having a great time being pirates. The only snag in an otherwise fine evening when they make dock is that they’re dangerously low on funds. Naturally, Nami spies an opportunity to make a profit and before they know it, Luffy and crew are signed up for the biggest, roughest, anything-goes Read more ›

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Posted in Anime, Anime Movie, Reviews

Soul Eater manga Volumes 1-5 review

Soul Eater manga volume 1 cover

Anime Reporter hits the manga archives once more for a look at Soul Eater manga volumes 1-5 (chapters 1-18).

Soul Eater 04 Death Weapon Meister Academy DWMA Death City

Soul Eater focuses on a handful of students at the prestigious Death Weapon Meister Academy (or DWMA for short). Meisters are capable of perceiving souls while weapons are actually people capable of changing their form into… well, weapons, though typically some variation on a sword or scythe. These meisters and weapons are teamed up to harvest the souls of the undeserving and, after a weapon has consumed ninety nine human souls (hence the title) and the soul of a witch, they can become a Death Scythe, a weapon worthy of being wielded by the head-honcho, the chief supreme soul-reaper, Shinigami (but you can call him Death).

Soul Eater manga Volume 02 coverThe series focuses on three groups of youngsters making their way through DWMA and Death City. Firstly, we have Maka and Soul Eater (okay, so there’s another reason for the manga’s title). Maka is a top-notch meister and great friend to Soul. The two work well together and are driven by strong ambition. While Soul is eager to become a powerful Death Scythe, Maka is more interested in replacing Death’s current weapon of choice, Maka’s Read more ›

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Posted in Manga, Manga Series, Reviews

Attack on Titan Part 01 anime review

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 00 title Screen

If you’ve had a conversation or two about anime or manga during the past year, there’s an excellent chance that someone has mentioned Attack on Titan. It’s fast become a blockbuster and Anime Reporter is about to tell you why, reviewing Part 1 (episodes 1-13) of the Attack on Titan anime series. Some readers will be aware that Anime Reporter has covered the first thirteen volumes of the manga to date, taking the story much further than the plot of this review. This article is focused on the anime completely distinct from the manga series for the purposes of review, though anyone interested in getting started on the series who wants to know which version to go with can feel free to skip down the page to the Anime vs. Manga section of this post.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 06

Attack on Titan (or Shingeki no Kyojin in Japanese) is set in a world where humanity lives within the borders of three gigantic walls. Only the bravest and most skilled of soldiers dare to venture outside the outer wall, Wall Maria, for outside is the territory of the titans. It has been one hundred years since these giant, powerful creatures first appeared, unceasingly hunting and devouring humans, never seeming to tire or grow bored. These titans range in size, but even the smallest is far larger than any human and though they often vary greatly in their appearance, they all look more or less human, often with twisted, bizarre facial expressions. They don’t seem to talk, or even really to think. It’s only clear that they flock towards large groups of humans, devouring anything they find.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 12 Titan scout

This is the world to which Eren, Armin and Mikasa are born. Eren is a tough, stubborn kid determined to see the outside world at any risk. Mikasa is a solemn, intimidating child whose fierce devotion to Eren seems limitless. Armin is a timid, incredibly bright kid who typically relies on Eren and Mikasa to get him out of the trouble his mouth gets him into. These three live an uneasy existence dreaming of the world outside the walls, until one day, hell comes to their doorstep.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 01 Colossus Titan

“And just like that, everything changed. At that terrible moment, in our hearts, we knew home was a pen. Humanity, cattle.”

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 02

A colossal titan, far taller than any other titan had ever come close to, appears without warning, taller even than the towering Wall Maria. Within moments of its appearance, the titan has kicked a hole through the wall and its smaller siblings are swarming upon Eren’s home city. Making horrific matters somehow even worse, another titan, capable of barrelling through solid rock at great speed with its armoured hide, makes short work of the city’s inner wall. Eren, Mikasa and Armin are forced to leave their homes and many of their loved ones behind, never able to forget the giant, ludicrous beings tearing their neighbours apart without a thought. The three children become refugees, starving and scrambling inside the outer of humanity’s now two remaining walls. The only comfort from the atrocities they’ve witnessed is the thought of becoming soldiers and killing the titans that have pushed them so far towards extinction.Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 04 Scout troops

This is where things get really, really interesting.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 07 Mikasa Eren Armin

Five years later, the trio are just that little bit more grown up and enlisted to become soldiers. There’s a lot of studying to be done, a lot of saluting and a hell of a lot of conversations reminding everyone of exactly how terrifying titans actually are. There’s also a wee bit of training with the Omni-Directional Mobility Gear, a pretty nifty, gas-propelled wire system which can send troops swinging and slingshotting with speed and precision that would make Spider-man pack away his skin-tight onesie in shame. It’s not easy, but it’ll take every ounce of training to keep these cadets alive in the big, bad world of titan-slaying.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 18 Omni Directional Gear

Actually, they could probably do with a lot more of all of the training because once things kick off, the body count run high. These fresh-faced soldiers may have seen a titan or two in their time but that doesn’t mean they’re prepared for it when things get hairy. The action is undeniably fast, with the omni-drectional rig making things just about a fair fight, but not much more than that as titans are much stronger and faster than their vacant expressions would have you think. The soundtrack is seamless, carrying emotion and tension with ease. Action scenes become increasingly intense under the momentum of heavy orchestra or pounding drums and the effect is truly captivating. The animation is nothing if not glorious, with a variety of styles and methods flitting on and off screen, capturing layers of action, emotion and drama without becoming a distraction. The character design is pretty faithful to the original manga, with an emphasis on heavy, dark lines and deep shadow work but where it really shines is in action, with soldiers flying around faster than the eye can follow and looking pretty darn snazzy in the process. Titans are haunting, serving as something altogether more ghastly than their closest relative, the zombie, the semi-translucent shading of their skin makes them all the more ghoulish and their fixed expressions only seem more sinister and menacing over time.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 05 titan

Yes, this show has action, blood and more suspense than this anime reporter has felt since Death Note. But it’s more than that. This is a story of loss and pain and more rage than a human body should be able to contain. Eren, Armin, Mikasa and indeed, the entire human race are scarred beyond repair by the unending destruction that the titans bring them. That’s what the titans really are, at the heart of this series. Their contorted expression are cruel mockeries of human emotion, they are, every inch of them, reminders of grief, rage, terror and hopelessness. They are the fear and guilt that survivors are woken by, they are reminders that the world can never be the same. This series packs more anguish and a clearer representation of the pointlessness of human destruction than any series I’ve seen in a very long time. Soldiers are not just faced with taking down titans, they also have to wrestle down their own desperation and grief on a constant basis. Adrenaline and heartbreak go hand-in-hand with this one.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 08 Colossal Titan Eren

Only the utterly squeamish or those who simply can’t abide a heavy dose of emotion with their intense action-scenes should consider missing out on this series even a little.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 09

Before moving on to the final score, I’d like to take advantage of the fact that this portion of Attack on Titan was covered in manga form in an earlier review here. For anyone interested in starting this series who’d like to weigh the anime against the manga, I offer the following comparison:

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 03

Attack on Titan: Anime Vs Manga

With any series, there can often be a tremendous difference in the overall experience between watching an anime and reading the manga. While many people claim that reading the Death Note manga can feel much more drawn out than watching the anime series (we will not be discussing the live-action incidents for now), there are certainly many who feel that the anime versions of One Piece and Naruto are often slowed down by recaps and filler arcs and that the manga is a much smoother reading experience. Many fans lean heavily towards one medium or another. The following is only for those who may have trouble making up their minds.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 15

While the plot is consistent between the two versions of Attack on Titan, at least this far into the plot, there is a drastic difference in the experiences of watching the anime and reading the manga. These differences are heavily weighed in favour of the anime, without a doubt. If there is one weakness to the Attack on Titan manga, it would have to be that the artwork can often feel a little too cluttered and often lacking in necessary detail. (For example, when reading the manga initially, I at first failed to realise that there was anything special about the armoured titan at all, though his abnormal behaviour is made vitally clear from the get-go of the anime.) With the blend of animation styles used in the anime, scenes are not only clear, but a sheer pleasure to watch. More than this, the already dynamic action scenes and violent renditions of the manga are taken to entirely new levels with sterling special effects and a seamless soundtrack. The manga, while an absolute pleasure to read, could never hope to capture the Omni-Directional Mobility Gear in action like the anime does and characters are presented with just that little bit more detail that makes viewing a more pleasurable experience.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 17 Omni Directional Gear

Although it’s early days for the series, it doesn’t seem like pacing will be much of an issue, with scenes firing ahead with dynamism, pausing only when the tension of a scene requires it.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 11 Titan

As it stands, the manga is much further along in its plot than the anime, but this is the only advantage which it has over its animated sibling. Officially, in this reporter’s opinion, the anime series is more than worth the wait.

The Final Verdict

Attack on Titan Part 01 is available on DVD and Blu ray (Age rating 15) from Manga Entertainment UK from Monday 15th September 2014. For more information, check out the Manga Entertainment website and Facebook page.

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 13

Premise:                       8.5

Plot:                             9

Animation:                   9.5

Action/Violence:           10

Suspense:                     9.5

Attack on Titan Shingeki no Kyojin Part 01 14

93% – Must-See! – Attack on Titan is a smash hit and with undeniably good reason. The faint of heart might want to give this a miss. Everyone else might just find themselves with a brutal new favourite anime!

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Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji) manga volumes 16-17

Black Butler manga cover volume 17

Anime Reporter, (i.e. Yours Truly), brings things up to date with volumes 17 and 18 of the Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji in Japanese) manga series. If you’re totally new to the series, you can find my review of the first five volumes, as well as an introduction to the series’ premise here.

Spoiler Alert

For everyone who’s up to date with the first 16 volumes (or 72 chapters) of gothic servitude at its grandest, we can press on.

Black Butler 16_17 01

When last we encountered young Earl Phantomhive, he was tricking and plotting and cheating and worming his way up the hierarchy of Weston College, eventually managing to land himself the coveted position of being the servant of a servant to a prefect. There was pretty much no way to make that achievement sound like it belonged to such a dark and dynamic series, but it very much manages to maintain any and all feelings of tension, drama and eeriness. Ciel’s investigation into the reported disappearance of one of Weston’s students takes a new direction as he spies an opportunity to enter the company of the apparently omnipotent but evasive principal of Weston College.

Every year, the school holds a cricket tournament between the four school houses which are definitely not associated in any way with Hogwarts.

I bet the Sorting Hat is just a great way to get head lice.

I bet the Sorting Hat is just a great way to get head lice.

While Blue House, of which Ciel is the newest member, typically places dead last, Ciel has learned that one player is selected every year to dine with the principal and the prefects. This makes for a golden opportunity for Ciel to get closer to his information and therefore closer to getting the hell out of this creepy, secretive boarding school.

In the lead up to the event, Ciel continues his investigation around the campus and the student population, coming up with dead end after dead end and no sign of Derek. The cricket game tournament proves to be an excellent feature of the story arc, with some inventive and intense manoeuvres designed to make Ciel shine throughout.

Black Butler 16_17 03

While the Weston College story arc doesn’t seem to fit into the macabre and occult setting of the series thus far, it does an excellent job of injecting some subtly cult-like tones into an otherwise ordinary boarding school setup. It would be easy for this relatively low-action plot to seem sluggish in comparison to its predecessors but the tension and the can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it sense of danger make it a mystery that many readers will want to get to the bottom of just as badly as Ciel.

This arc is also one of the instances where we see Sebastian utilised less and less in the grand scheme of things with his hands tied in the role of schoolteacher. It’s refreshing to see Ciel having to get his hands dirty with a minimal amount of assistance from the titular servant of the series.

Volumes 16 and 17 come to a close with the Weston College arc not quite finished but with some advances that should leave a few readers reeling and eager for Volume 18. Unfortunately, this brings us up to speed with Black Butler and it will be late October before the next instalment is published in English. Let’s hope it’s worth the wait!

Black Butler Volumes 16 and 17 push the boundaries of strategic mind games and manipulation, turning a few games of cricket into an intricate chess match. Needless to say, Earl Phantomhive proves to be more than a match for his schoolboy contemporaries, though that isn’t to say he has no obstacles along the way. Black Butler Volumes 16 and 17 are currently available from Yen Press.

Gothic chills:                6

Mystery:                       8

Plot development:         7

Suspense:                     8.5

Entertainment:             8.5

Black Butler manga cover volume 16

76% – A Hard Lesson – Volumes 16 and 17 make up the bulk of the Weston College arc and offer a new side to the Black Butler series, emphasising espionage over demonic plots mostly.

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Posted in Manga, Manga Series, Reviews

Transfixion review

Transfixion cover

Anime Reporter takes a turn with some post-apocalyptic reading to review J. Giambrone’s new young adult novel, Transfixion.

Transfixion is the story of Kaylee Colton, a young American teenager who does her chores, thinks her brother can be a bit of a jerk and really just wants to read her newest supernatural novel in peace. Peace is not forthcoming. A jarring transmission sends a great deal of the population into a murderous rage and suddenly everyone is at war, either to exterminate those who haven’t answered the psychotic siren-call, or just to survive. Kaylee’s first glimpse of this terrifying new world is when she finds her now significantly jerkier brother murdering their mother. Not left with a lot of time to grieve, Kaylee has to Read more ›

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Posted in Books, Reviews

Toriko manga Volume 23

Toriko manga Volume 23 cover

Anime reporter returns for another course after far too long a fast. With great relish and appetite, it’s time for Toriko Volume 23 (chapters 199-207)! If you’re not familiar with Toriko as a series, you really ought to be and a great place to start is with my take on the first five volumes here.

Now, if you haven’t acquainted yourself with the first twenty two volumes, you should definitely to expect more than a few spoilers here.

Spoiler Alert

Ok… are they gone? Just us seasoned Toriko veterans left? Excellent! Quick show of hands; who else was incredibly excited by last volume’s Read more ›

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Psycho Pass, complete Season 01 review

Psycho Pass Season 01 00 Title Screen

“…people have found a way to analyse a person’s mind. The intelligence of science finally uncovered the secret of our souls and our society has changed drastically because of it. The problem is, free will has been stripped from the equation and, if man is not judged by their choices, then how are we really deciding who is good and who is evil?”

Psycho Pass Season 01 11

Anime Reporter tip-toes carefully in the darkness, trying desperately not to think of anything crazy, because they’ll know if I do, and, brings you the world of Psycho Pass, the Complete Series (eps 1-22).

Psycho Pass Season 01 07

Psycho Pass is set in the year 2113, when violent crime is virtually unheard of, thanks to Sybil. What’s that? You don’t know about Sybil? Well, Sybil is the delightful computerised watchdog that scans the minds of all citizens and determines their crime coefficient. Crime coefficients represent the likelihood of any individual going violently crazy and basically serve as an early-alert system for psychopaths. So, if you feel your thoughts going a murky green- Read more ›

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