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Messages - Krozam

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Manga / Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« on: December 08, 2013, 04:16:07 pm »
Not in the mood to make a proper review, but I felt like this one deserved a mention:

Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There (by Yanai Takumi and Sao Satoru) is a pretty awesome manga. There's an immortal gothic lolita demigod apostle of the god of death swinging a huge axe probably twice her weight... who gets turned on when people die nearby. And the protagonist is pretty awesome, too, appearing like a laid-back slacker otaku, but being actually a very competent and intelligent, not to mention highly sympathetic soldier and officer. Those should be enough reason to read it, but there are plenty of other reasons. For one, it's actually political, in a way you rarely see a Japanese work of fiction being. Sure, the author is clearly nationalistic and glorifies JSDF and Japan, but apparently it's very much toned down from the original light novels. The adaptation seems to be better than the original, in this case. It's all fine if you consider it artistic license with the purpose of making the protagonist's side "the good guys" and his comrades badass.

It's like a darker, bloodier, more action-filled, but also more comprehensive and intelligent take on the same theme that Outbreak Company has at its heart: a clash of cultures when a gate to a fantasy world suddenly appears in Japan. In this case, though, they fight first and get to know each other afterwards. 4/5 stars, I'd say.

Edit: Oh, and music: Celldweller - Own Little World (Remorse Code & Blue Stahli remix) and other Blue Stahli works. Mostly because I just recently found Blue Stahli and like it a lot. This Celldweller remix suits most parts of the story well, though I also listened to many Blue Stahli originals. Scrape, for example, is awesome. The Destroyer of All Things is great for the really brutal battle scenes.

Anime / Re: The Season So Far...
« on: October 19, 2013, 01:07:24 am »
Kyoukai no Kanata and Strike the Blood (I'm at ep 3 on both) are still my two favourites this season. KnK is still full of witty dialogue, and StB is a well-balanced fantasy action show. Both with a cast of likeable characters who're already gaining some depth.

Outbreak Company (ep 3) is surprisingly maybe my third favourite. There was finally some action in the third ep, and as I hoped, despite the silly premise, this does have some depth and thought to it. The protagonist is surprisingly okay, I feared he'd be a lot more pathetic.

Golden Time (ep 2) has been pretty entertaining so far, despite the unbelievebly bland protagonist. Still, can't stand comparison to Toradora.

Log Horizon (ep 2) is another show I'm enjoying a lot more than I expected. This season has unusually many good male protagonists, and the guy in this one is near the top of my list.

Galilei Donna (ep 2) didn't convince me with its first ep, but the second ep sure did. This time it drew me in. The youngest sister still did nearly all the work, but but since she's apparently the main protagonist, I don't really mind. Her weak moment felt a bit forced, but otherwise, an all-around strong episode.

Gingitsune (ep 2) still hovers a little above the drop line. I'm obviously not among the target audience for this kind of a show, but so far I've enjoyed it enough to keep watching.

Tokyo Ravens (ep 2) continues as well as I could expect. Strong dramatisation. I always liked this first arc, kind of a prologue, the best so far: I have faith that they'll end it as well as they started it. It should end in the next ep.

Nagi no Asukara (ep 1) has interesting settings and pretty scenery, but I dislike the main character almost as much as the bland guy from Golden Time. Though for different reasons. Bland is bad, but always angry, hostile and jealous doesn't make a character likeable either. Also, there are few hints of a plot so far, just a lot of drama. Well, I plan to check at least another ep.

White Album 2 (ep 2) I originally skipped without even considering it, because I've only heard bad things about the other White Albums. Well, I'm glad I decided to check it out after all. With a casual and intelligent protagonist, promise of strong romance elements, nice music, and a pretty nice mood, it quickly drew me in. I'm just afraid that the drama might get too serious and unpleasant in the end. But I'll definitely keep watching for now.

Manga / Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« on: October 13, 2013, 04:28:50 pm »
Kaichou wa Maid-Sama finished at 85 chapters. A good, touching ending for a great romance. I grinned like a madman through the "10 years later" part (the latter half of the last chapter), and cried a little, too. I'm sure the effect would've been stronger had the story been told from Usui's viewpoint - even though Misaki is a wonderful protagonist, as a guy I naturally have some trouble identifying with a female protagonist - but it's so good that even this way it had this much of an effect on me. Well, Kaitou Saint Tail had me crying for like 15 minutes, so it's not like this is the first romance with a female protagonist to make me cry.

Sad to see a good manga end, but it was time. The mangaka told her story and ended it when she ran out of material, naturally, without dragging it out too much. And the ending is satisfactory in every way. In fact, it's one of the most perfectly executed romance endings I've ever seen. This is how it should be done. Too many manga/anime either end incomplete or get dragged out too much, and then fail the ending.

Anime / Re: The Season So Far...
« on: October 11, 2013, 03:12:18 am »
You're right, the youngest sister in Galilei Donna is awesome. Overall it didn't really pull me in, but despite all the mecha shit, it just might be worth watching. I'll give it at least a one more episode.

I also tried watching NouCome ep 1, but it was so bad that even if I skipped the worst parts (which was about half of the episode), it was still awful. Absolutely horrendous, there's no way I'm giving that a second chance. *shudder*

Kyoukai no Kanata ep 2 is as good as the first ep. Hilarious dialogue and nice battle animation.

Anime / Re: The Season So Far...
« on: October 09, 2013, 01:59:09 am »
Gingitsune: Kinda boring first episode, but I like the atmosphere and Gin's character, so I'll give this at least another episode.

Tokyo Ravens: A bit early to judge, but it looks like this might become a good adaptation. Good musics, both the OP and BG musics. Rather skilled dramatisation too, IMO. The only thing I question is the choice of HanaKana to voice Natsume, IMO she's not the best option for the role of a cross-dresser (she'll dress as a boy later in the story), her voice is too obviously feminine. Also, I've missed Hokuto...

That should be all I planned to check out this season.

Anime / Re: The Season So Far...
« on: October 06, 2013, 03:27:31 pm »
First impressions on some of the new anime airing this season:

Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita: Ugh... I'm getting strong Hataraku vibes here. Conceptually very similar, right down to the misleading action-beginning. Slightly better comedy than in Hataraku, but still awful. Filled with low-class service. At least it takes place in a fantasy world, but I'll need to learn more about it than about the magically powered household-appliances to know whether it's an interesting world or not. However, I've learned from Sora no Otoshimono (manga) and Hataraku that even if 80% of the show is crap, the rest can be so good that it makes the whole worth watching. So I'm only putting this on hold, until I get some opinions about several episodes forward, not dropping it instantly.

Log Horizon: Conceptually, seems like a SAO ripoff. Still, I actually liked the first ep more than the first ep of SAO. The main character is the intelligent type, I have some hopes for him. The comedy is also pretty good. Overall, surprisingly promising beginning, I'll be watching this one.

Outbreak Company: Despite the premise being completely out of whack, the first ep was actually fairly entertaining. The comedy is ok and there are some hints of racial unequality issues akin to Eien no Aselia. This could be good, or it could fall flat on its face. I'll watch at least a bit further.

Strike the Blood: My favourite first ep in this season, so far. Some interesting mystery, decent action and a promising protagonist. Reminds me of Index, a little. Will definitely watch.

Golden Time: As an anime based on another work by the author of Toradora, this is one of the two anime I've actually been looking forward to. The first ep didn't disappoint, though it wasn't a pleasant surprise either, mainly due to the male lead being about as bland as they come. Well, I expect some character development, so I'm not too worried about it. I expect an enjoyable romcom, nothing more, nothing less.

I'm still waiting for Tokyo Ravens to air, it's the second anime I'm actually looking forward to this season. I'm reading the manga adaptation, and it's pretty good. I don't remember if there was anything else I was going to check out this season, that hasn't aired yet...

Edit: I forgot Kyoukai no Kanata: Maybe even better than Strike the Blood. Awesome dialogue reminiscent of the Monogatari series. Standard KyoAni quality animation and moe character designs. A nonchalant protagonist, just as I like them. All in all, a promising start.

Manga / Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« on: September 25, 2013, 12:55:15 am »
I know I've mentioned this manhwa a couple of times before, but I've just re-read the entire thing, so I figured now is a good time to write a proper review:

The Breaker and its ongoing sequel, Breaker: New Waves by Geuk-Jin Jeon and Kamaro

Although this is probably one of the most internationally famous manhwa, the industry in Korea is apparently squeezing the life out of their authors, so these two have my respect for hanging in there and stubbornly developing their story in their own patient pace. At times a little too patient, one might say. Reading the chapters weekly, it definitely feels like the story is dragging for, like, 100 chapters from the start of New Waves, but when you read it all at once, it's actually not that bad. This way you get a much clearer picture of the somewhat complex plot, the intriguing world of martial arts in this story, and the extensive cast of characters. Marathoning a story is typically much more enjoyable for me than taking it in small doses weekly or monthly, but it's especially true for this manhwa.

But nevermind the plot and stuff, the primary reason to read The Breaker has always been the fights. Glorious, badass, unrealistic martial arts fights. In this, The Breaker is unquestionably among the very best of its kind. In both art and writing, superbly entertaining stuff.

The protagonist is a high school boy with a weak body who gets bullied to the point that he contemplates suicide. He's "saved" by a new teacher, who initially doesn't give a damn about a coward like him, but eventually relents and promises to teach the kid martial arts. Little does the boy know that he's about to enter a world far more brutal than his life until now. Through a series of events in the first series, he ends up leading the most powerful martial artist clan in Korea in the second series. Swearing to never again be a coward, he puts his life on the line fighting agains one overpowering opponent after another, visiting death's door so many times that I've lost count. His determination and endurance are ridiculous even by manga/manhwa standards, and he fully takes advantage of his plot armour, lol. Initially it feels as though he's doomed to be a punching bag forever, but at some point you realise that it's only because he keeps encountering ridiculously strong opponents. In truth, he's a friggin' martial arts genius: although his progress is aided a lot by a miracle drug that gave him a ridiculous amount of ki, and being taught by several top martial artists, it's undeniable that within mere months, he's turned from a boy with a weak body that'd lose a fight against any normal person his age, into a master-level martial artist. Oh, there's still a wide gap between him and the TOP masters, whom he keeps encountering both as allies and enemies, but he's getting there. And he's getting pretty badass, too, lately. Though it's his kindness and naïvete bordering on idiocy that keep attracting ladies to his harem (which he has NO idea he has, except for his "girlfriend", who ironically enough is one of the only two people around him who don't know about his secret new life)...

His master, known as Goomoonryong, Nine Arts Dragon, is recognised by some as the strongest martial artist in Korea. His disrespect for the rules of the martial arts world, however, has earned him many enemies, and he's generally seen as a villain. And true enough, the further the series goes on, the darker he gets. He's a seriously badass character, and an antihero (or more like, a hero turned villain) in the best manhwa tradition.

There is a multitude of interesting, badass characters in the series, with clashing motivations, many of them trapped in a spiral of vengeance. (Elder Kwon, intruduced at the very end of the first series, but taking spotlight in the second, deserves a special mention for both badassery and an interesting personality.) The martial arts world is a brutal place with brutal rules: the strong dominate the weak, and clan ties, and especially the ties between the master and the student, are more absolute than blood ties, resulting in feuds spanning generations. However, there are also good things about this world, chivalry and dignity rarely seen in the world of ordinary people. In the best tradition of shounen heroes, the protagonist takes in these good things and denies the bad things, slowly changing the outlook of at least the people close to him, eventually perhaps the entire martial arts world. His master also seeks to bring down the system, but his methods are a lot more brutal, leading them on different paths after the first series.

The plot is surprisingly complex, a mess of clan politics, mysterious organisations and powerful, world-changing characters with clashing motivations. Like I said, if you read it weekly, it gets confusing and feels pretty slow. It is only now that there are 10 volumes of the original series and 129 chapters, roughly 13 volumes, of New Waves, and I've read it all in a few days, that I start to grasp the whole picture. I do enjoy a plot and a world with some intrigue and complexity, so while it may be somewhat confusing, especially to an international reader not very familiar with the korean culture, it's at least better than the usual straightforward shounen manga plots.

The art is pretty classy, though somehow... cold. As is usual for manhwa. Clear, dynamic in fights, individual character designs, cool and sexy covers. It develops noticeably during the series, but it's pretty good from the start.

All in all, The Breaker is an enjoyable ride filled with badass characters and exquisite violence for those who enjoy bloody, unrealistic martial arts battles. Especially enjoyable when marathoned. But it's not all violence, there's a decent plot with some delicious intrigue. It's a bit slow at times, and some, like me, may not enjoy the overuse of plot armour with the protagonist (seriously, he'd probably survive even if a skyscraper was dropped on him), but all in all, good fun. 3.5/5 stars for both series (I only recently raised New Waves' rating to the same level with the first series, though).

Music: I typically listen to Pain with any dark, actionful manga and manhwa, but it started with The Breaker, and to this day Bye/Die, Clouds of Ecstacy, Don't Care and Reach out (and Regret) in particular are most strongly connected to this series in my mind.

Manga / Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« on: September 12, 2013, 12:57:35 am »
It seems I'm getting back on my manga groove. Today, I present you

Rosario+Vampire Season II by Ikeda Akihisa

First of all, for those who've seen the anime and not read the manga, I assure you, there's a great difference. I haven't actually seen more than a couple of episodes from the anime, but I've heard horror stories about it. It's not a faithful adaptation, not even close.

Secondly, I probably should review the first manga series first, but it's been a year or two since I read it, it's not exactly in fresh memory anymore. One thing I do remember about it is how it evolved from a mediocre, ecchi harem comedy with some light battles into quite a decent shounen battle manga (without losing the harem elements, of course). In the end I rated it 3 stars. For many things, like character development, I'll be considering the two series a single story in this review.

The second series continues to escalate, though at first it kind of resets back to the status quo and to its roots as an ecchi harem romcom. However, this doesn't last long in the big picture, and soon we're back to serious stuff. Through multiple short arcs gradually gaining in seriousness and slowly revealing the organisation to which all the serious antagonists have belonged to and which as a whole kinda plays the role of the ultimate antagonist (though there is also a single character who in the end takes that role). It reminds me of Negima, which evolved from a comedy into one of my favourite long shounen battle manga, but R+V takes it a step further, completely changing the tone of the manga from light to dark, from funny to serious, from slice of life to epic. If someone read the beginning of the first series and then jumped to the last arc of Season II, he'd definitely wonder if he was reading the same manga or if it was some kind of a reboot with only some common characters.

The characters evolve with the story. Tsukune, the male protagonist, at first a classic useless harem lead, already becomes pretty badass in the first series, but in the second he becomes a full-fledged shounen battle manga lead, complete with training sessions, sudden power-ups and incredible determination. I, for one, like the change, especially as it's accompanied by growth in maturity and personality depth. Moka, the female lead, is at first a beautiful airheaded vampire with a super-powerful (and super-prideful) inner personality. The second series reveals her mysterious past, why she's at the centre of world-shaking events, and deepens her character, especially the inner personality, a lot. She remains a powerful character, but with other powerful characters entering the fray, she can no longer end her battles in a single kick. She even becomes a damsel in distress for a while, spurring Tsukune's growth a great deal.

The other characters also gain some depth. Some of them, a lot of depth. Quite a lot of attention is paid to Moka's sisters, all three of them, and even though they're new characters introduced in the second series, they all become major, well-rounded characters. As another example, Kurumu, I never really liked her until the last arc, where I gained some serious respect for her. Many characters who used to be pretty much defined by their relationship to Tsukune gradually gain independence and a variety of personality traits. I can hardly say that R+V is a manga defined by its deep and multi-dimensional characters, but comparing to its humble beginning, the character development is, in many cases, quite impressive.

The art has also developed a lot during the 9 years that this story has been published. It was never downright bad, but it was pretty amateurish at first. The mangaka has gradually improved his skills and become more professional over the years. Whether it be ecchi fanservice, grotesque monster designs, touching dramatic scenes or cool battles, the artist has retained his basic style while steadily improving every aspect of it. I'm no art critic, but I can say that I quite like his art now, and it seems to have no significant weaknesses left.

The comedy is mostly so-so. It makes me laugh often enough, but it's nothing amazing. There is one exception, chapter 23 of Season II, which I found particularly hilarious. Overall, I'd say that while the light parts of this manga are fairly enjoyable, it's a good thing that the manga got more serious as it advanced, because epicness and seriousness suit this author much better than light comedy.

The overall plot suffers from its humble beginning, because while the author does occasionally tie the current epic story into the beginning, the first series, it seems that he didn't really have a good idea of where he'd end up when he started writing the story. The conversion from comedy to serious isn't too sudden or anything, it's patient and well enough built, but it's still one of the most extreme genre and tone conversions I've ever seen in one story. There's nothing particularly twisty about the big plot or any of the short arcs, but there are enough mysteries and moderately surprising revelations to keep things interesting.

While harem is a very strong element thoughout this story, it's obvious that there is only one girl who ever had a chance with the male lead. Still, Tsukune is likeable enough, after some character development, to not make it utterly unrealistic for the other girls to stay around him even after they realise they'll never be the first in his heart. Like any decent harem lead, he treasures all his friends but never wavers in his love for the one girl his heart chose. That is not to say that the only good kind of a harem lead is one who never gives up on his first love, my point is that I never saw him as the indecisive kind of guy. In terms of touching scenes, this romance has yet to reach the level that'd bring tears to my eyes, but some scenes are truly well dramatised and have touched me in various ways. I have grown fairly attached to the characters, and if the ending is done right, it still has the potential to reach that level. The latest chapter already came very, very close.

The action, too, has much improved. At first it was quite light and comedic in nature, not to mention repetitive, always ending with Tsukune removing Moka's sealing rosary, and her inner personality ending the battle with one kick, shouting her catchphrase, "Know your place!" Already in the first series things began to change, with stronger enemies appearing and Tsukune gaining some battle power of his own. But it's nothing compared to the second series. Not only Tsukune, the harem members (and even some male side characters) gain more power and become actually useful. And of course, the battles themselves, both in writing and artistically, keep getting better. Now they are quite comparable to any shounen battle manga.

The last arc is... special. It kinda feels like everything before this has been one overly long prologue and the real story started with the last arc. This arc is significantly longer, darker and more epic than the ones before it. It reveals everything that the story before it has merely hinted at, diving into Moka's past, revealing the antagonist organisation, expanding the settings in many different ways, etc. It has its own training session, plenty of character development and new characters. It cranks the epic up to eleven.

And then there is the last battle. I can honestly say that I probably have never read another last battle quite like this. It just keeps going on, an epic rollercoaster of desperate situations and flares of hope. Usually they have a clear climax, or two at most, after which things calm down and the arc ends. This one has already had like half a dozen "climaxes", and every time I've been surprised when a few pages later there's another turnaround. Now it's heading towards what I believe to finally be the final showdown, after which the manga wraps up and ends. Probably no third "season" coming. It's kinda hard to top this, and I don't see any plot threads extending beyond this arc, it'd have to start something completely new. But I might be wrong, long shounen manga do it all the time, extend beyound what should've been their ending point.

In conclusion, R+V has been quite an enjoyable run. It kept evolving, far surpassing my expectations when I started reading the first series many years ago. I'd say that the quality/enjoyment increase from the start of the first series to the current point (ch 66) is at least 2 stars, from 2.5 to 4.5/5. But since the whole is so unbalanced, I'll give Season II as a whole 4/5 stars.

Music: Onlap - From Dust to Ashes By the time I'd finished, the repeat count was around 240... <_<

Manga / Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« on: September 09, 2013, 01:47:46 am »
So... I caught up with Breaker: New Waves. After over a hundred chapters, Shioon is finally back to full health, and stronger than ever. He's kicking some serious ass. Too bad he almost immediately faces one of the friggin' Grandmasters of Murim, and once again survives only through his completely fucking ridiculous mental and physical endurance. He lives through stuff that'd kill an ordinary man a hundred times over, and his determination is way off the chart as well. It's way extreme even by manga/manhwa standards. -_-'

Still, his powerups are pretty extreme, too. Sometimes it feels like he's getting stronger slowly, but taking into account the plot moving at a snail's pace, he's actually making giant leaps between and during every serious fight.

Also, elder Kwon just keeps getting more badass. And right now he's fighting that other Grandmaster. It could be pretty damn epic, but I get the feeling it's not yet their time to seriously face off. Even though they're fighting seriously, the storytelling doesn't support it well enough, the focus is still on Shioon.

Still, I look forward to the next chapter. They're on a hiatus now, but fortunately it should be over soon. It was supposed to be a month, and it's been a few days over a month since the last release.

Anime / Re: What Did You Just Finish?
« on: September 07, 2013, 07:05:32 pm »
I got hooked to it as well and ended up watching the end through tired eyes. I don't let just any anime in my 5/5 club. ;)

Manga / Re: My Translations
« on: August 18, 2013, 03:40:49 am »
Unhappy Now Year, a cute one-shot about two neighbours who have a rather good ending to a bad year, by Comeon Showme:
Thanks again to kenjin for helping me with a couple of difficult lines.

Music / Re: What Are You Listening to Right Now?
« on: August 16, 2013, 03:15:35 pm »
These and other epic stuff.

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Sawano Hiroyuki has become one of my favourite composers. The awesome AoEx OST was no fluke.

Manga / Re: My Translations
« on: August 12, 2013, 04:14:43 pm »
Here's a new one:

My Little Pet, a cute vanilla by Yuuki Shin:
(Link removed)
Kenjin helped me with a few difficult lines, but this time I almost made it on my own, lol.

Dropbox DL link, because the magazine where that story was published is now blacklisted in E-hentai:

Music / Re: What Are You Listening to Right Now?
« on: August 07, 2013, 05:16:03 am »
From Disciple's newest album. A pretty good album with several other good songs as well. So what if they're a Christian rock band and I'm an atheist, the music's good. ┐( ̄ー ̄)┌

<a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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