Fairy Tail movie 1: Phoenix Priestess review

Fairy Tail Movie 1 Phoenix Priestess 00 title screen


Anime Reporter jets ahead of the current collection for Fairy Tail, the first movie: Phoenix Priestess.

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Fans of the main series should be advised that this film takes place after the time skip. If you don’t know what the time skip is, there’s a good chance that you still have a bit of the anime series to go before you’re quite up to date with the film. The time skip brought the anime series into the future, aging characters a bit and changing up appearances.

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The plot of Phoenix Priestess follows the regular team of Natsu, Lucy, Happy, Grey, Wendy and Carla and begins with them taking on the latest mission in a hot streak of successes. After their mission to hunt down the leader of a team of bandits comes to an abrupt end, they return home, only to stumble across a young woman by the name of Éclair. Éclair is a little brash, and none too fond of magic or people who use it, though she isn’t too sure of why. Saddled with the unfortunate plot device of amnesia, Éclair has been wandering the land with a small stone tablet and not too many clues about why.

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Needless to say, this sounds like a job for Fairy Tail.

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Blood Lad manga Volume 05 review

Blood Lad manga volume 05

Anime Reporter returns once more to Demon world to review the fifth instalment of the Blood Lad manga series.

Blood Lad volume 05 (3) Staz

Needless to say, this being the fifth volume, anyone who is unfamiliar with the first four should a) check out our earlier review and b) definitely read the first four volumes.

Spoiler Alert


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Triage X manga review (Nudity, Graphic Violence, NSFW)

Triage X Volume 1

Anime Reporter locks and loads for another manga review with Triage X volumes 1-4, the action-filled assassin series written and illustrated by Shouji Sato.

Triage X (6)

Triage X Volume 2Some readers may have already recognised Sato’s name or… particular style as one and the same from High School of the Dead (reviewed here) and you’d be right. Triage X was created when HOTD was put on hiatus, though for casual readers, they might as well be the same series.

Sato’s style is noticeable from the very beginning with fan service being at the forefront of the entire series. Giant guns, flashy motorbikes and Sato’s signature overflowing boobs are in absolute abundance. Before even beginning to talk about the plot or the premise, it’s worth saying that if blatant fan service and over the top instances of nudity are something of an annoyance for you, then you definitely shouldn’t pick this series up. There are attempts at character development but they’re very definitely overshadowed by panty shots, group bath scenes and a hell of a lot of violence.

Triage X (3)

Still with us? Triage X follows Black Label, a medicine-themed team of assassins who work on the basis that criminals are diseases infecting society. The team is led, in a passive sense, by Masamune Mochizuki, a sickly doctor who advises and leads the other members, pointing them in the direction of people who deserve death. He essentially serves as the “Professor X” of the group. The chief protagonist of the series is Arashi Mikami, a young high school student and the only male on the strike team. He’s the newest member of the group but is as determined as any, owing a life death to Masamune. His signature look is an iron motorbike helmet which obscures most of his face.

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Naruto Collection 18 review

Naruto Shippuden Collection 17 00 Title Screen

Anime Reporter gears up for Naruto Shippuden Collection 18, (episodes 219-231), another bout of ninja-themed anime action.

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Needless to say, being the eighteenth collection of the second series, there are going to be quite a few spoilers here for anyone who isn’t pretty familiar with Naruto so… be warned.

Spoiler Alert

Okay, now that the obligatory spoiler alert is out of the way, let’s press on! Remember collection 17 (reviewed here)? It was pretty excellent, right? It really set the scene and left nothing standing in the way of the next big arc, the Fourth Great Ninja War!

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Or so it would seem. Collection 18 continues only briefly on from the last batch, with a foreboding premonition of Naruto’s future and a great deal of hushed conversation regarding the upcoming conflict. All of this is in the original manga and is all part of the story arc. Naruto receives word that he is to be sent to a distant and remote island for a special mission, though in reality, the Hokage and Raikage have their own reasons for wanting him out of the way. This is also entirely true to the source manga. Where it deviates is in taking nine out the thirteen episodes of the collection (and a few into the next collection) focusing on Naruto’s very drawn out voyage and all of the inevitable conflicts and misadventures along the way. Fans of both the manga and the anime will know precisely what this means: filler arc. While these episodes are as entertaining as any other, they really don’t move the overall plot forward which can understandably be a little tedious for long time fans who really just want to see Naruto taking his frustrations out on Akatsuki. There is minimal build up for the looming war and references to the Land of Fire and how it’s perceived by people from smaller, less powerful countries.

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Naruto’s voyage sees him accompanied by Guy sensei and Yamato who are both fine characters in their own right, if not exactly intimate friends with Naruto. This makes for some excellent battles and episodes but fairly little in the way of character growth. Some highlights along the collection include an (obligatory for filler arcs) episode devoted to Rock Lee’s training, a mysterious island full of gigantic, vicious creatures, an episode about Naruto’s shadow clones going on strike and, of course, pirates.

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While some fans will be disappointed that the next great story arc is put on hold for another collection, there’s no doubt that some viewers will just be happy that Naruto didn’t spend yet another season hunting after Sasuke.

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The animation for the collection is absolutely superb. Naruto is one of anime’s current longstanding series and it’s plain to see that the quality and style of the animation has improved drastically over the years. Some scenes in these episodes are as masterfully rendered as anything from the latest Naruto movie.

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All in all, this collection is an entertaining, if fairly dragged out look at some bonus Naruto adventures. It does grate slightly that the first three episodes of the collection are filled with an undeniable sense of urgency, only for the remaining episodes to adopt a lax war-schmar, we’ll get there when we get there attitude.

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Naruto Shippuden Collection 18 is available on DVD from 21st July 2014 from Manga Entertainment. For more information, check out the Manga UK website, their Facebook page and, of course, stick around Anime Reporter for more reviews and updates.

Naruto Shippuden Collection 18 10

Plot:                                         6

Animation:                               9

Action:                                     6.5

Character Development:          4.5

Entertainment:                                    8

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68% – Strong Filler – Naruto Shippuden Collection 18 does an admirable job of providing some quality Naruto-shaped entertainment, but nonetheless feels like a break in between instalments of the real show. High quality filler, but undeniably filler.

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Jormungand Season 01 review

Jormungand 00

Anime Reporter prepares to tarnish its soul, entering the world of Jormungand, Keitaro Motonaga’s crime anime based on Keitaro Takahiaski’s manga of the same name.

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“I have devoured five continents. I have slurped three oceans dry. The vast sky alone remains out of my reach, for I am trapped in this body which lacks wings hands and feet. I am the world serpent. I am Jormungand!” These are the words with which the series begins, though they’re not to be taken in any way literally. While this series shares its name with the Norse snake of legend, it’s entirely devoid of magic or the supernatural and instead focuses on the exploits of a team of arms dealers.

Jormungand 01

Koko Hekmatyar (voiced by High School DxD’s Shizuka Ito in Japanese and Deadman Wonderland’s Anastasia Munoz in English) is an ambitious and highly respected figure in the arms dealing world. Her loyal team of bodyguards from all forms of military and combat experience would make her a force to be reckoned with, even without her brilliant tactical mind and knack for manipulation. When we join the action, Koko and crew have just adopted a new member into their fold. Jonah (voiced by Horizon On the Middle of Nowhere’s Mutsumi Tamura in Japanese and Soul Eater’s Micah Solusod in English) is a child soldier. Jonah’s incredibly difficult history have given him a deep and very understandable hatred for arms dealers, leading him into moments of great confliction as he fights alongside Koko and continues to use the weapons he despises.

Jormungand 07 Jonah

It would be easy to imagine this series diverting into friendlier territory, with Jonah finding a life away from guns or somehow teaching his new comrades the error of their ways and convincing them to abandon their work. That, however, is not even close to what happens. Every character within the series is aware of just how shady and blood-drenched their world is and continues along that path with relatively few worries. Jonah, despite his young age, can fairly regularly be found killing foes with speed and no remorse. This is not a happy ending kind of anime. Violence is unapologetically plentiful and graphic throughout and the overall tone is dark and very gritty.

Jormungand 03 Koko Hekmatyar

There are several likeable characters on the team and a nice range of personalities and expertise. For the first season, Koko and Jonah are the main protagonists and they also receive by far the most exposition time. Coming in closely after them is Valmet (voiced by Fairy Tail’s Sayaka Ohara in Japanese and Guilty Crown’s Carli Mosier in English), for whom the phrase “tough as nails” would do no justice.

Jormungand 05 Valmet

This muscular, eye patch-wearing soldier is about as deadly as they come and is haunted by her greatest loss in battle, which included the loss of her eye. Valmet shows little affection for any of her teammates with the exception of Koko, with whom she seems to be madly in love.

Jormungand 10 Koko Valmet

Plot is used fairly casually and mainly comes in the form of Koko playing government officials like a drum or trying to outwit business rivals. Principally, the series is concerned with different missions to deliver or protect cargo and a couple of episodes which focus on one of the downsides to being an international criminal, when assassins make attempts on Koko’s head. Action is well and truly the name of the game with Jormungand but it’s carried off so well that viewers may not even notice the lack of plot. Action scenes are full of suspense and perfectly paced, showcasing a lot of technical knowledge and strategy in the process without becoming too reliant on military jargon.

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Jormungand Season One is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK and from 21st July 2014 from Manga Entertainment UK. Strong language, graphic violence and a tiny amount of nudity earn this series a 15 age rating. For more information, check out the Manga UK website and stay with us here at Anime Reporter for more reviews and updates.

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Animation:                   8

Plot:                             5

Action:                         9

Intensity:                      9

Intrigue:                       8

Jormungand 13 Valmet


78% – Bloody Good Stuff – Jormungand may not be ideal for fans who want a generous serving of plot with their anime, but its sure to satisfy viewers who want to see some blood splatter with plenty of gunfire and explosions thrown into the mix. Fans of Black Lagoon should check this one out.

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Blood Lad manga volumes 01-04

Blood Lad manga cover volume 01

Blood Lad manga cover volume 04Anime Reporter set off in search of new manga treasures and returns triumphantly with Yuuki Kodoma’s Blood Lad Volumes 1-4 (chapters 1-20). Blood Lad is a relatively recent (starting in 2009) series with a gothic premise, but which takes its influences much more from the Shonen world than from anything dark, dreary or Transylvanian.

Blood Lad is largely set in hell, which is actually a pretty familiar, if slightly hostile place. Staz Charlie Blood, known as Blood Lad to a few, is a bored but powerful figure in Demon World. He’s the boss of the Eastern district, making him something like a powerful crime lord and he’s also a vampire. He doesn’t really care about that too much though, he’d much rather stay at home and watch some Studio Ghibli or read manga (who wouldn’t?). Staz is pretty heavily obsessed with the human world, particularly Japan and collects all sorts of Japanese video games, animation and books. His obsession is rewarded when a busty young human inexplicably appears in his district. Torn between his vampiric hunger, some implied lusty feelings and a general fascination with all things humans, Staz decides that Fuyumi is essentially his new best friend and is determined to have her show him around her world.

Blood Lad 12 Staz Fuyumi

This is inconvenienced ever so slightly when Fuyumi is rather unceremoniously killed and abruptly becomes pretty dull in Staz’s eyes. It’s not a total tragedy as Fuyumi is still walking around and talking, with only a shiny white triangle on her forehead alerting anyone to the fact that she’s now a ghost. Staz pledges his help in somehow returning Fuyumi to life and also figuring out precisely how she managed to stumble into Demon World in the first place. After some pretty entertaining exploits in the human world, they find an answer and a great deal more questions in the form of Hydra Bell, a powerful young (did I mention busty) sorceress who claims to be the only one who should be able to travel between worlds.

Blood Lad 08 Staz


Blood Lad manga cover volume 02The mysteries stack up quickly but the story takes its time, giving the reader plenty of time to get to know each of the characters and, most likely to really like them. The supporting cast is fleshed out a little by some of Staz’s underlings and a lot by his long-time friend and rival boss of the Western districts, Wolf. As much as Staz is lazy and aloof about his role in Demon World, Wolf is tough and ambitious, always looking for a worthy fight. Rather unsurprisingly, Wolf is a werewolf, at least partially, and while he lacks some of Staz’s cooler abilities, he’s an impressive combatant in his own right.

We’re also introduced to a couple of Staz’s siblings, who seem to fit the bill of classic noble vampires a lot better than their brother and they don’t seem to appreciate Staz’s slumming letting the family name down. From vampires to zombies and werewolves to changelings, this series borrows from the depths of horror, but with some very nice Shonen-style tweaks.

Blood Lad 09 Wolf

Staz’s brand new quest to save his new friend’s life (and maybe, you know, pick up some new video games or whatever) brings him all around Demon World and face to face with a few things that are monstrous even by his standards. Staz is pointed in the direction of a mad scientist with a fairly recognisable name and soon ends up hunting down a vicious creation with a knack for spilling blood.

Blood Lad 06 Wolf Staz

The action is impressive and quickly grows in scale with plenty of imagination and escalation. Staz’s vampiric powers are much more than the stock-standard vampire abilities and the characters of Demon World live up to their potential, even so early in the series. The art style is innovative, using some rough greys for shadow effects seems a little old school but undeniably amps up the creepy atmosphere.

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Kodoma doesn’t seem to be able to resist his own busty female characters and takes perhaps too many opportunities to barely obscure anything of Fuyumi’s breasts, though things do stay safely(-ish) away from explicit nudity.

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The main draw of this manga is the humour. Staz’s obsession with anime and manga is refreshing and there are quite a few references and jokes which aren’t essential to the story but are very rewarding nods for long-time fans of some classic series. Dragon ball in particular seems to be one of Staz’s favourite, but he manages to sneak in a lot of Easter eggs that should bring a few smiles if not outright laughter.

Blood Lad manga cover volume 03It’s difficult to describe this series without giving away the early plot but Blood Lad seems to be getting ready to follow in the footsteps of many of the greats of manga, while maintaining an incredibly likeable and refreshing personality of its own.

If you’re looking for a new manga series to love, even if you’re not a fan of vampires or horror, Blood Lad is more than worth picking up.

Blood Lad Volumes 1-4 are currently available from Yen Press, with Volume 5 available in the UK from July 22nd 2014.

For more information, check out the Yen Press twitter page and stay with us here at Anime Reporter.

Premise:                       8

Intrigue:                       8.5

Characters:                  8

Action:                         8.5

Humour:                      9

Blood Lad 10 Wolf

84% – Hot Blooded – Blood Lad makes a fierce impression with its opening four volumes, managing to inject humour, personality, action and suspense into an enjoyable, fresh world. Long time otakus and manga fans will find a few extra rewards for their knowledge but this series should convert more than a few newcomers too!

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Ninja Scroll (1993) (Explicit Violence, Nudity- NSFW)

Ninja Scroll 00 title screen

Anime Reporter goes back over two decades into the archives for Ninja Scroll, Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s ultra-violent story set in feudal Japan.

Ninja Scroll 01

A deadly plague sweeps across the land, leaving death and misery in its wake. A band of mysterious riders gallop as though hell itself is on their heels. It is a dark time to say the least. The story focuses mainly on Jubei, a sell-sword with an impressive history and Kagero, a deadly young warrior with a few secrets of her own. Initially Jubei is on his own, making his way as best he can until he kills someone he perhaps shouldn’t have and ends up forming an uneasy partnership with Dakuan, the creepy wise old-man to end all creepy wise old-men. Dakuan’s plans for settling old scores cross paths with Kagero’s honour-bound duty and the action unfolds from there.

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Without giving too much away, the plot is rich in the best traditions of anime, dealing with revenge, justice and a hell of a lot of mystery. Jubei is forced to confront a familiar face from his past, but it won’t be easy. There’s a host of lethal, inhuman killers along the way and they’re all dying for the opportunity to spill Jubei’s blood.

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The characters are phenomenal in design, with several demonic warriors boasting powers and appearances that are still innovative and impressive twenty years after it was made. Not to mention intense. This film definitely brushes off the territory of disturbing and truly earns its 18 age rating.

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Character designs aren’t the only disturbing or mature elements in play. Action sequences are truly brutal and graphic, spilling blood and organs with the best of the best. There are also several scenes featuring explicit nudity and sexuality, much of which appears in violent and abusive acts. It’s worth saying again; this one is not for kids.

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The animationstyle for the film has noticeably aged, though after over twenty years that can hardly be surprising and the 10th anniversary edition is remastered flawlessly. Colours are rich in texture and the movements of characters, if lacking some of the crisp lines and complex effects of modern anime, are impressive and fast paced. The older animation style will only distract viewers who allow it to and there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t be more engrossed in the film after a few minutes.

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As said before, there are some classic plot elements at play, but viewers with a weak stomach should give this one a miss. The true selling point of Ninja Scroll is in its brutality. Battles are bloody and explicit, with harsh language and deeply dark themes and plot points.

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Ninja Scroll is best suited for long-time anime fans who are looking for an action anime with an edge. Or several.

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Ninja Scroll was created in 1993, meaning that the 10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD has been available from Manga Entertainment UK for over ten years now. The Anniversary Edition comes in two discs, featuring full screen and widescreen versions of the film.

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For more information, check out the Manga UK website, the Manga UK Facebook page and for more updates and reviews, follow us here and on Facebook and Twitter.

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Animation:                   8.5

Violence:                      9

Plot:                             8

Character Designs:       8.5

Impact:                                    9

Ninja Scroll 09

86% – An Epic for the Action Junkies – Ninja Scroll may be over two decades old but for anyone who hasnt seen it, this should pack a few surprises. Whether those surprises are pleasant or not may depend on the sensibilities and the stomach of the viewer.

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Posted in Anime, Anime Movie, Reviews

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