[Manhwa Review] Catharsis: How to Literally Fight Your Inner Demons

Leon Mori is a stereotypical high school outcast, bored with life and bored with school. The only person he interacts with on a frequent basis is Ami, his middle-school tutor, stand-in guardian and current teacher, whom he also has a secret crush on. All very normal so far, except for a few niggling tidbits, like the fact that he is born with synesthesia and see sounds in colors. Or that he has been having a recurring nightmare for weeks, where he wanders in darkness running from disturbing laughter that paints his world in red. He sinks into the nightmare whenever he dozes off, and it is so vivid that it blurs his sense between dream and reality, turning his everyday life into something … monstrous. Soon though, Leon realizes his dreams may not be just dreams…

Pic1

Continue reading

Death Note the Musical – Kwang-Ho Hong vs. Kim Junsu

Death-Note-Musical

Death Note, the unexpected gravy train franchise that has produced an anime, movie, live drama, has now expanded to musicals. This is not new news to hardcore fans – the Japanese show premiered earlier in April and the Korean version followed in May. The Broadway counterpart, depending on which source you sought, may be coming soon (there are demo tapes of the English soundtracks), or may not be coming at all (those tapes were then removed from the official site).

When I first learned that Death Note would be made into a musical, I thought it must be a joke. It’s like one of those abominations that shouldn’t have ever existed, if not for the funniness of demand meeting supply. Fans of the franchise still lusts for more material almost a decade later, and which company ever says no to money?! I was content to close my eyes (and ears) to this farce, … until I heard Light’s song “Death Note” by Kwang Ho Hong. Check it out below:

Continue reading

[Log Horizon 2] Episode 11: Cool Techniques, Demikas Redemption and Shiroe’s Final Showdown

shiroe 4

Overall. I’ve realized that life is pretty fair sometimes. Everything that failed to happen in Episode 10 went down like a dream in Episode 11  (except perhaps Shiroe’s grand revelation but I had stopped hoping for the impossible). Shiroe and party began what looks like the last and final try to finish up the raid, and the whole episode was basically an epic fest of second by second strategy, shiny equipment, and showy techniques. Demikas also reached the final stage of his redemption path by dragging Shiroe kicking and screaming into the final stage of the dungeon. No doubt this is my favorite episode of Season 2 to date.

Continue reading

[Log Horizon 2] Episode 10: Chicken Soup for the Gamer Soul

Hey folks, apologies for being MIA for past 4 episodes as traveling took the month out of me. I’m back now though and ready to give a heartfelt review for episode 10.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 6.45.34 PM

Overall. Unlike Episode 9, an action-packed episode that gave us all the Shiroe action we were missing while Akatsuki wrapped up the Akihabara murder arc, Episode 10 is the sort that haters refer to when they point out how slow the anime pacing is. The entire episode is basically a 22 minute motivational speech. Yeah I get that their whole party died, but half of episode 9 was basically Shiroe resolving his personal issues, which led me to optimistically believe that episode 10 will be when Shiroe reveals his awesome plan, do the impossible, and whoop the butts of the three raid bosses. Tragically, the rest of the party has issues as well, and William Massachusetts’ low self-esteem (“I just accidentally became guild master, but I really suck and don’t deserve it”) rears its head again. Damn. Guess the asskicking is postponed for another episode.

Continue reading

[Light Novel] Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari Review

Iwatani Naofumi was summoned into a parallel world along with three other people to become the world’s heroes and save the kingdom from the Calamity. Each of the heroes were respectively equipped with their own legendary equipment when summoned. Naofumi coincidentally received the Legendary Shield as his weapon, the only defensive weapon of the lot. Scorned by everyone for his uselessness, Naofumi’s destiny in a parallel world begins…

tate 1

Overall Impression

Hands down, Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari takes one of the most unique approaches to the virtual video game genre I’ve ever read / seen. And that is, the light novel incorporates a very real emotional element in its storytelling. Having read many tales in this emerging genre, I am definitely not over-generalizing when I say that most virtual MMORPG stories are lacking in “dramatic complexity.” And that’s perfectly fine because audiences are buying into these stories for the vicarious experience of living a video game, becoming heroes / villains, and conquering the world. Even Log Horizon, which takes a more “slice of life” approach to the genre and explores the psychological difficulties of suddenly living a video game, has mostly one dimensional characterization in a mostly happy-go-lucky atmosphere. Well, Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari is definitely not happy-go-lucky, and characters are certainly far from one dimensional.

Continue reading

Shokugeki no Souma Gets An Anime in 2015

For what it’s worth, I simply love it every time a manga I’ve been following since Day One becomes an anime. It’s like a little personal affirmation that “The Important People in the Industry” agree with my taste in manga. Sometimes it was only a matter of time (Nurarihyon no Mago, Ao no Exorcist, Kuroko no Basuke, etc.) as these manga were made for shounen tv, and other times it was a complete surprise–Yowamushi no Pedal, Love Stage (like how the heck did this get approved O.o), Baby Steps (eh, anime / manga have been biased against sports stuff for a while now), etc.

But Shokugeki no Souma is a different beast. By all means, it should have become an anime a loooong time ago. Although it’s a cooking manga, Shokugeki no Souma is so much more “shounen” than most action mangas out there. Except for one defect: the ecchi (aka non age-appropriate for the shounen anime audience). I wrote about the regretful unfulfilled anime potential in my review on Shokugeki no Souma the manga, and I’m so, so glad that my wish came true and it finally got an anime anyways.

Watch Shounen Jump’s hype video for the anime below:

[Log Horizon 2] Episode 5: Serial Killing, Badass Soujirou, and Other Assorted Idiocy

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 11.20.00 AM

Overall. First of all, what an amazing episode!!! After all that buildup in the first few episodes (and an especially action-less Episode 4), Episode 5 has delivered on everything and more. All my regrets and doubt have been washed away. The People of the Land (well one guy) has really stepped up to present a legit challenge to the all-powerful adventurers. Some light is finally peeking out beneath the Akatsuki dark cloud. Soujirou has a MASSIVE episode as he finally shows us why he’s cool enough to have a harem. We finally see an offensive style “Teaching” / “Overskill” and it looks awesome. Shiroe’s entire party got wiped out by Boss X but whatever, at least they found a boss when they were just crawling around complaining last episode. MOST IMPORTANTLY, that ominous foreshadowing in Episode 1 when Akatsuki and Shiroe meet in death on Christmas Eve just happened, which means that this is the depth of their failure — all that’s left to do is go up!! I can’t wait until Shiroe comes back with a vengeance and Akatsuki just destroys that creep. So, so satisfied right now 😄

Continue reading

[Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso] Episode 4: The End of the Beginning and the Beginning of the End

“Come on, let’s go on a journey.” – Miyazono Kaori

shigatsu 4 4

Overall. Wow, what an emotionally intense episode after the setup in Episode 3. My palms started sweating and I almost cried when Kousei struggled and finally gave up on playing in the middle. It was the sort of thing you knew was coming, yet couldn’t help but be swept up in the moment anyways. Episode 4 was the like the epiphany that finally sparks after two years of struggle. We got our long-awaited Kaori-Kousei duet, Kousei’s return to the limelight, and a semi-success in overcoming his trauma. This is just a beginning for Kousei—technically he still can’t hear his own notes—but it seems to be the beginning of the end for Kaori. These two are polar opposites. Kousei is trapped while Kaori is free. Kousei is monotone while Kaori is colorful. Kousei is timid while Kaori is bold. It makes sense then that as Kousei waxes, Kaori wanes. People, “April will be ending soon.”

Continue reading

[Log Horizon 2] Episode 4: The Real Housewives of Akihabara

Episode 4 is a couple days late due to weekend traveling, sorry folks…

lh 4 10

Overall. While Episode 3 was about getting stuff done, Episode 4 was an exhibit of horrors: the horrors of what can happen when too many girls are together for too long, the horrors of too many characters musing about romance, the horrors of Studio Deen’s truly atrocious art, etc. I am not sure how I feel about this episode because there are just too many mixed messages flung around, and the only thing flowing continuously through  Episode 3 seems to be Akatsuki’s depression, which is just sad [pathetic]. I supposed I should be excited that Shiroe has some deep plot to take over the world through flavor text or that stereotypical big bad wolf villain finally did something other than appear dramatically for two seconds…buuut, I think watching Akatsuki has eroded my own self-esteem and I need a few seconds. Pardon me.

Continue reading

[Anime] Nodame Cantabile: The Seven No’s for a Great Romance Anime

I was so inspired by Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso that I went back and re-watched all three seasons of Nodame Cantabile, which in my opinion is one of the best music and romance animes of all time. Nodame Cantabile is about the developing relationship between Shinichi Chiaki, a perfectionist piano and violin genius who longs to become a conductor, and Noda Megumi (Nodame), a klutzy “loser” pianist who has a lot of hidden potential. Both music students in the same department at the same university, Chiaki and Nodame’s first unfortunate meeting leads them onto a path that changes their lives forever.

Nodame 1

Continue reading