Posts tagged Manga

The new Shaman King 2012: Flowers

Note: Please check the bottom of this post for updates and links to English translations!

Shaman King fans. You’ve been waiting for it. It’s finally here. Hiroyuki Takei’s manga series Shaman King has been revived, first with Shaman King: Zero and now with the official sequel, Shaman King: Flowers – starting in the April 10 Jump Kai release. While Shaman King: Zero showed us the backstories of Yoh, Ren, Horohoro, Lyserg, Hao, and Chocolove, the new Shaman King: Flowers (シャーマンキング 花, Shāman Kingu Hana) will focus on Hana Asakura (the son of Yoh and Anna) development as a shaman.

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The new Shaman King 2012: Zero Story

Note: Please check the bottom of this post for updates and links to English translations of omakes!

Hiroyuki Takei’s manga series Shaman King is being revived, starting with the November 10 Jump X release of an all new 44-page manga one shot about Yoh Asakura, called Zero Story.

While we’re waiting for the English translation of Zero Story, be sure to check out this new video on Anime News Network – it’s a song called “Osorezan Revoir”, sung by Mugumi Hayashibara (voice actress for Anna), and featuring an original illustration of Anna by Hiroyuki Takei.  And you MUST read the touching backstory on how this video came to be.

According to Anime News Network:

“The “Osōrezan Revoir” video was created to celebrate the revival of the Shaman King manga with a new 44-page story in Jump X [Kai]’s fifth volume on November 10. The manga short will depict a previously untold “zero story” about the main character Yō Asakura. According to the magazine, the manga short will be the first part in a series of short manga stories and lead up to a “Big Project” next spring.”

This one shot will, according to Shaman King Nation, tell the story of “Yoh Asakura leaving his hometown of Izumo and heading to Tokyo for the first time, as well as helping the spirit of a dead child pass on”.

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Review: .hack//Link

.hack//Link takes place after .hack//G.U., and is the story of a gamer, Tokio, who can’t wait to play The World R:X. but is unable to get access.  A mysterious transfer student, Saikaal, invites him to play and somehow transports him, body and consciousness, into the game where she treats him as a slave.  It’s quickly apparent something has gone wrong in The World – Tsukasa shows up and is acting strange, Haseo is still crazy and searching for Tri Edge – it’s up to Tokio to figure things out.

There are three .hack//Link manga books currently available, and a .hack//Link PSP video game, released in Japan only.  While the art style for the beginning of .hack//Link  isn’t consistent with the typical .hack art style, that’s true only for the opening sequence – the rest of the game is has the typical .hack look.

There are also future plans for a .hack//Link animated OVA tie-in.

Check out my earlier review of the overall .hack mythology here, and my other posts with more details on Sign, Roots, G.U., Link, and Quantum

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Review: .hack//G.U.

Once you have watched Roots, you’ll want to continue the story either by playing the .hack//G.U. video games (Rebirth, Reminisce, Redemption), watching .hack//G.U. Trilogy, or by reading the .hack//G.U.+ manga or the .hack//G.U. novels (The Terror of Death, Borderline MMO, Harald’s Archetype).

Haseo’s story continues, and he’s recruited into Project G.U. and the guild Raven.  Still searching for a way to save Shino and the Lost Ones, Haseo trains to regain his character’s strength and power.  Haseo learns about his hidden power and struggles to gain control of it.  While there are many familiar characters from .hack//Roots, we are introduced to several new characters including Endrance, Atoli, Bo and Saku, and Sakaki.  Haseo has several arena battles, becomes more involved with Atoli and Moon Tree guild, learns more about AIDA and the 8 Phases/Epitaphs/Morganna Factors and grows into his role as an Epitaph User with his Avatar Skeith.  (Cool fact:  Skeith means “Shadow” in Old Scottish.)

Mysteries are unveiled right up to the very end, and we watch as the characters are faced with questions such as – to what lengths will a person go to, to achieve their goals?  At what costs?  What are we capable of?  How strong is the human will?

For more information:

www.dothack.com

wikipedia.org/wiki/.hack_GU

dothack.wikia.com

Liar’s Smile (From .hack//G.U. Trilogy) ***Warning:  Spoilers***

Check out my earlier review of the overall .hack mythology here, and my other posts with more details on Sign, Roots, G.U., Link, and Quantum.  And, here’s a little bonus, now that we’re getting in deeper…

The Epitaph of Twilight: (source)

Yet to return, the shadowed one.

Who quests for the Twilight Dragon

Rumbles the Dark Hearth,

And Helba, Queen of the Dark,

has raised finally her army.

Apeiron, King of Light beckons.

At the base of the rainbow do they meet

Against the abominable Wave,

together they fight.

Alba’s lake boils.

Light’s great tree doth fall.

Power- now all to droplets turned

in the temple of Arche Koeln.

Returns to nothing,

this world of shadowless ones.

Never to return, the shadowed one,

Who quests for the Twilight Dragon.

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Review: The World of .hack (Dot Hack)

Welcome to The World.

.hack (or Dot Hack), is a series of separate but connected stories told through anime shows, video games, manga and novels.  In .hack, human players interact online in The World – a fictional MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) – using virtual reality headsets and a gamepad controller.  Filled with mysteries and adventure, the .hack saga is a complex and intricately woven journey that includes virtual reality, artificial intelligence, human players, corporate cover-ups, a mad scientist, all with MMORPG job classes, dungeons, and monsters.

Imagine a popular MMORPG where strange things are happening, and you are searching for answers along with the characters.  An entire mythology, a journey with great depth, .hack is the struggle to save others and to save one’s self, and to what lengths a person will go to, to achieve their goals.  When you finally reach the end of the journey, it’s mind blowing and you’ll want to travel it all one more time.

Chronological order

Probably the only drawback to the whole .hack franchise, is that it can be confusing to newbies.  There are so many different stories and media types, and it makes more sense if you watch/read them in order.  Also, there is some overlapping and retelling of the story; for example, some of the anime, manga, and novels retell exactly the same story.  It can be repetitive, and there are discrepancies, but it sometimes adds small details – especially the novels which add more background details to the anime.  Sometimes the story is retold from a different point of view – for example, the .hack video games are told from Kite’s perspective, while the .hack//Another Birth novels tell the same story from Black Rose’s perspective.

The best way to enjoy .hack – in chronological order:

.hack//Sign (anime; prequel to the original four .hack games)

.hack (PS2 video games) or .hack//Another Birth: Infection, Outbreak, Mutation, Quarantine (novels)

  • .hack//Infection
  • .hack//Outbreak
  • .hack//Mutation
  • .hack//Quarantine

.hack//Legend of the Twilight (anime and manga)

.hack//Roots (anime; prequel to the three .hack//G.U. games)

.hack//G.U. (PS2 video games, manga, novels)

  • Vol. 1 Rebirth
  • Vol. 2 Reminisce
  • Vol. 3 Redemption

.hack//Trilogy (DVD movie)

.hack//Link (manga, PSP game)

.hack//Quantum (DVD/OVA)

I would recommend the .hack video games for ages 10 and up.  The PS2 games are all rated T; there’s no blood, but lots of battling (REN GEKI!), and some swearing.

I would recommend the .hack anime shows for ages 7 and up.  The anime shows have some battling and swearing.  Keep in mind, the battling is taking place in an online game, so only the player’s online character is “killed”, and then has to relog in at their last save point.  There are some profound concepts to think about, and very young kids might be frightened by Haseo’s 3rd form, Flick Reaper.

So far, we’ve watched Sign (twice, as once we knew what was really going on, we had to watch it again), and Roots.  We bought all 7 PS2 games of .hack and .hack//G.U. from eBay and Amazon.  We’ve also read the Legend of the Twilight and G.U. manga and novels.  We’re waiting to watch Trilogy until after we finish the 3 G.U. games.  Then we’ll also watch the OVA Returner, and, after we read the Link manga, we’ll hopefully find a way to watch Quantum.

Immerse yourself in the fantastical World of .hack, and while you’re there discover some awesome music.  Sign, Roots, and Trilogy all have amazing soundtracks, ranging from driving/fast paced to relaxing/slow.  The kids and I have downloaded all the songs from these shows to our iPods and YouTube queue.  Here’s one of my favorites, Fake Wings (Yuki Kajiura):

To make life easier for you – .hack media, sorted by type:

Games (all by CyberConnect2)

.hack (PS2):
Infection
Outbreak
Mutation
Quarantine

.hack//Fragment:  (PC mmorpg) released in Japan only; now closed.

.hack//G.U. (PS2):
Vol. 1 Rebirth
Vol. 2 Reminisce
Vol. 3 Redemption

.hack//Link (PSP – Japan only)

Anime

.hack//Sign (series)

.hack//Liminality (4 part OVA)

.hack//Gift (OVA)

.hack//Legend of the Twilight (series)

.hack//Roots (series)

Online Jack (clips)

.hack//G.U. Trilogy (DVD movie of the .hack//G.U. games)

.hack//G.U. Returner (OVA)

.hack//Quantum (new 3 part OVA) 

Manga

.hack//Legend of the Twilight

.hack//Alcor

.hack//G.U.+

.hack//4koma

.hack//Link

.hack//XXXX

Novels

.hack//AI buster, .hack//AI buster 2

.hack//Zero

.hack//Another Birth (Infection, Outbreak, Mutation, Quarantine)

.hack//G.U. (The Terror of Death, Borderline MMO, Harald’s Archetype)

.hack//Epitaph of Twilight

.hack//CELL

.hack//GnU

Classes/Jobs in the MMORPG The World:

The World:  blademaster, wavemaster, heavy axeman, heavy blade, long arm, twin blade.

The World R:2:  adept rogue, steam gunner, flick reaper, harvest cleric, blade brandier, edge punisher, lord partisan, macabre dancer, shadow warlock, tribal grappler, twin blade.

For more information:

Official website 

Dot hack Wiki

Fan sites:

www.dothackers.net

www.dothackportal.com 

www.dothack.org

Be sure to check out my upcoming posts with more details on Sign, Roots, G.U., Link, and Quantum.  Are you a .hack fan?  Share the love, and any tips you have, in the comments!

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Review: Shaman King

Shaman King is a manga and anime series written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Takei, about a shaman named Yoh Asakura and his journey to become Shaman King by winning the Shaman Fight.  The Shaman Fight occurs every 500 years; the winning shaman is crowned Shaman King, merges with the Great Spirit, and is then able to reshape the world in any way they desire.

Shaman King starts out introducing the main characters, the concept of shamans (a shaman is one who can channel spirits – a medium between the world of the living and the world of the dead), the role of the Shaman King, and the setting of the Shaman Fight which is held every 500 years.

Shaman King has a compelling cast of characters, each with their own dreams and reasons for competing, including:  Yoh – a lazy, but kind shaman; Amidamaru – an ancient samurai spirit; Manta/Morty – a short, studious human who can see ghosts; Ryu/Rio – an older teen gang leader, looking for his Best Place; Ren/Len – a tough, powerful shaman from the ancient Chinese Tao family; Horo Horo/Trey – a snowboarding, nature loving shaman; Anna – a spirit medium, and Yoh’s fiancée; Hao/Zeke – an ultra powerful shaman who hates humans, whose guardian spirit is the Spirit of Fire; Faust – a necromancer shaman whose only wish is to see his beloved deceased wife Eliza; Lyserg – a shaman who seeks revenge for the death of his parents by Hao’s hand; and Chocolove/Joco – a comedienne who wants to blow away all hatred in the world with the Wind of Laughter.

Yoh gains his guardian spirit Amidamaru, meets several new friends, and begins his Shaman Fight training.  There are battles along the way as shamans try to eliminate each other to cut down on the competition ahead of the Shaman Fight.  Yoh and his friends meet Hao/Zeke, who wants to become Shaman King to create a shaman only world and eradicate humans;  his interest in Yoh, along with a startling resemblance to each other is a mystery.  Yoh’s group also meets the X-Laws, (with their leader Iron Maiden Jeanne) a group of shamans who will stop at nothing in their singular task to terminate the evil Hao/Zeke.  There are the preliminary rounds which must be passed, to receive an Oracle Bell and proceed to the second round of the Shaman Fight.  Part of the second round includes finding the location of Patch/Dobi village, which is the location for the second round fights.  Hao/Zeke continually sends his minion shamans to test Yoh, and tells him to get stronger.

Anime

Originally airing in 2001-2003, there are 64 episodes of Shaman King, and you can choose to watch them in Japanese with English subs (Japanese voice actors with English subtitles) or watch the English dubs (dubbed with English voice actors).

I initially watched with English subs, and now I’m watching the English dub with all the kids.  It takes a little while to get used to the difference between the Japanese/English.  Names are changed:  Ren  to Len, Horo Horo to Trey, Manta to Morty, Hao to Zeke, Patch Village to Dobi Village, and of course all the attacks change (Hyoi Gattai to Spirit Unity.)  They change Ryu to Rio, and give him a Spanish accent.  Probably the toughest part to take is Ren to Len with a British accent and his upper crust speech at the beginning, and when they say Yoh wants to be Shaman King so he can be a Rock Star, when really his goal is simply a lazy, easy and carefree life.  The English version also has Horo Horo with a crush on Anna, and then they mess with the sword names (unforgiveable!) changing Harusame to The Sword of Light, and Futsu-no-Mitama no Tsurugito to The Antiquity.   I mean, really, “Amidamaru into the sword!” sounds a bit lame.

Sites where you can watch Shaman King online:

YouTube

watchcartoononline.com

watchshamanking

Manga

Originally published in Shonen Jump, from 1998-2004, there are 300 chapters in 32 volumes of Shaman King.  The final volume 32 was released in the U.S. on January 4, 2011 (translated version; does not have the Kang Zeng Bang chapters released in Japan).

Sites where you can read Shaman King online:

mangareader.net

manga2u.com

Differences between the anime and manga

There are many differences between the anime and manga story lines, and also many differences between the Japanese and American/English anime.  The anime and manga endings are so completely different – the story takes completely different directions.  Either story ending is acceptable, but they are worlds apart.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I won’t give out many spoilers, but in the anime, Yoh becomes powerful, and with the help of his guardian spirit, all his friends, and all the other people in Dobi village that wish for Yoh to win and Hao/Zeke to lose, Yoh is able to defeat the evil Hao.

In the manga, Yoh becomes part of the group of the Five Legendary Spirits, and realizes the only way to truly stop Hao and his cycle of reincarnation is to save him.  What is Hao’s reason for being evil?  Can he be changed back to the side of good, like Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker?

I would recommend Shaman King for age 7 and up.  It’s an inspiring story – fun, exciting, with lots of battling (pokemon style – with no blood), and no foul language or nudity.

Themes include what is good and what is evil?  Does any mean justify the desired end?  What is justice, and who has the right to judge?  What does it mean to be true to yourself?  And does having friends make you weaker (what Hao believes), or stronger (what Yoh believes)?  As Yoh goes on his Shaman King adventure, he must confront many challenges, fight difficult battles, learn of a secret past, and face his destiny.

Lastly, according to shamanking-nation.com, Takei is planning on a new Shaman King project for 2011:

“On January 6th, 2011 on Hiroyuki Takei’s official Twitter account he has made several announcements about the new year. His original Tweet follows:  Happy new year and thank your for your patronage of Hiroyuki Takei’s works last year. The planning this year: Karakuridôji Ultimo, Jumbor, Shaman King and an unseen new project, it works to add more Take_pro staff, best regards and thank you. (See the Tweet in Japanese)”

UPDATE: November 2011

According to Shaman King Nation, Hiroyuki Takei spoke on Japanese radio about the return of Shaman King:

“The start of these events began on last Saturday (9/10/2011) in Aomori, Japan. At 18:30 on the radio channel FM AOMORI, Hiroyuki Takei personally went on the radio to talk about his manga series. Prior to this, the last time his words were on the radio was in a letter spoken by Megumi Hayashibara shortly after the cancellation of the Shaman King manga series in Weekly Shonen Jump. While the entire transcript of this conversation was not recorded, there were two annoucements Hiroyuki Takei announced:  1. Shaman King will be continuing in March 2012 and 2.) Hiroyuki Takei is working on another project.”

SKN also reveals a new action figure of Asakura Yoh soon to be released (parts are grey, as this is a prototype):

According to TheAkiba, expect a preliminary treat in November 2011:

“According to the 4th volume of Jump X magazine, Manga series Shaman King is about to return and will be published with a new 44-page story in the next volume on November 10. The short story will present us an untold so called Zero Story about the protagonist Yoh Asakura.”

The big question is, what’s coming in March 2012 – will it be manga or anime or a movie or something else?

I can’t wait to see the new Shaman King manga on November 10, Zero Story about Yoh, and as soon as I find an English translation I will post a link.

UPDATE: 3/15/2012

For the latest information on the new Shaman King 2012: Zero Story, and more, check out my post here.

 

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Review: Princess Tutu

We just finished watching the Japanese anime Princess Tutu on YouTube.  It was unexpectedly beautiful, freakish, and poetic.  Imagine if you combined classical ballet – Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, with the book Inkheart, and sprinkled in a little of The Matrix and Lord Of The Rings, to create an anime series.  What you would have is Princess Tutu, a complex, layered, and musical labyrinth of a fairy tale, created by Ikuko Itoh.

Once upon a time, a small, yellow duck sees a boy dancing by the waterside.  He is a handsome and kind Prince, a beautiful dancer, but his eyes are so lonely, because he has lost his heart.  The Duck wishes she could talk to the Prince, dance with the Prince, and most of all, help the Prince to smile.

Suddenly a strange old man appears and offers her a magical blood-red pendant.  She is magically transformed into a human girl, and begins studying at a ballet school with the Prince.  She is not very good at it, but tries her best.  Even with the pendant, if Duck quacks, she turns back into a duck; she can turn back into a human girl by getting wet.  Duck meets Fakir, Mytho’s domineering and rude friend, along with Rue, a beautiful advanced class ballerina who is Mytho’s girlfriend.

The strange old man is Drosselmeyer, a story writer who died, but had the power to bring stories to life.  When he died, the story he was writing, The Prince and The Raven was only half finished.  Thus, the Prince and Raven have been eternally battling, unable to stop as the story has no end.  The Raven escaped out of the story, and the Prince followed the Raven to protect the town and battle the Raven.  Unable to defeat the Raven, the Prince, using a forbidden spell, shatters his own heart to seal the Raven away. 

The Prince, according to the story, loves everyone and is loved by everyone.  Although now utterly defenseless and lacking any emotion, he still feels the need to protect small and weak things.  The empty, broken Prince is found by Fakir, who becomes his protector.  The pieces of the Prince’s heart have scattered and are hidden.  The entire town is under a spell, as the lines between what is real and what is the story have become mixed.

The magical pendant also allows Duck to transform into Princess Tutu, who is fated to love the Prince, but if she professes her love to the Prince, she will vanish into a speck of light.  Princess Tutu is the only one who can gather the missing shards of the Prince’s heart and return them to the Prince.  Instead of battling to take the heart shard from a person, Princess Tutu asks “Dance with me”.  She releases the wandering heart shards hidden inside people by talking with them about their true feelings.

But just as Duck is more than she seems, so are Fakir and Rue.  And, Fakir and Rue both don’t want Princess Tutu to restore the Prince’s heart, for different reasons.  And what of the Raven, who desires to be released from his sealed prison?  In a town that is ruled by stories, things are constantly changing, and not always as they seem.  Drosselmeyer is still writing the story, using the lives of real people – and he wants an epic tragedy.

There are so many questions to be answered –  

What will happen?
Who is good and who is evil?
Is it right for Princess Tutu to restore the heart shards?
Will Ahiru stay as a duck, her real self?
Who is Princess Kraehe?
Is everything happening the way it is, because it’s just part of the story?
Is there no escaping fate?
Will the Prince live happily ever after?  But with who?
How will the story end?

*** WARNING: SPOILERS ***

Here’s an AMV video which gives you a 3 minute glance at Princess Tutu, to a Swedish technobeat:

First off, let me explain that the Prince is called Mytho, which is pronounced Mewtoe (I kept calling him MewTew, cause I’ve gotten too much Pokemon over the years).  And try not to let the title “Princess Tutu” make you think of Disney pink princess confection, as that is not what this is about.  It is a darker tale, more along the lines of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

A breathtakingly suspenseful, sweet, funny, yet unusual and odd anime, both of Princess Tutu’s 2 seasons are on YouTube.  There are 13 episodes for season 1, and 13 for season 2, making a full 26 episodes of approximately 23 minutes each.  Episode 18 is not available in English dub on YouTube, so you will have to at least watch that one in Japanese with English subtitles.  (Although, some people think the Japanese language episodes are more enjoyable to watch and listen to than the English dubbed ones.  It’s all what you prefer – try a couple of each and see.)   Originally released in 2002-2003, Princess Tutu is an older anime.  You can buy the DVD set on Amazon, or on eBay, but why not just watch it on YouTube, for free?

The classical music and dancing are superb.  Think combat ballet – a dance-off  as a battle.  There are also quite a few sword fight scenes.  There are references to Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Cinderella, Coppelia, A Mid Summer’s Night Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and many more classics.  I really enjoyed learning more about the different ballet “mimes” – how dancers use positioning to communicate language; for example, we learn the mimes for death, love, dance, no, you, etc.  As ballet doesn’t use the spoken word, you learn how a dancer uses ballet moves as language.

Rated TV14, and recommended for 13 and up.  I think Princess Tutu is fine for ages 8 and up.  There is occasional swearing towards the end (damn it, hell) and some nudity (nothing too revealing); there is also talk of sacrificing a human heart so the Raven can eat it.

A unique anime, Princess Tutu is a story within a story, with themes of good versus evil, the question of can you make your own destiny, the power of hope and love, and how one small, insignificant soul can change the world.

The ending is not what I expected.  Like many others, I imagine the “story of hope” that Fakir is shown writing at the end will lead to a happy life for him and the one he loves.

P.S.  The opening theme, “Morning Grace,” is written and sung by the talented Ritsuko Okazaki.

At the secret place by the waterside that no one knows of…
Dance the pas de deux of life…
And I’m dreaming again today

 

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