Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gash Bell!! or Zatch Bell??

For our next series of interesting and enjoyable anime and manga we have a series known to most as Gash Bell! This series goes by a few different names, for most Americans it's known as Zatch Bell which appeared on one of our favorite late night Cartoon Network airing sessions Toonami! In Japan Gash Bell is referred to as Konjiki no Gasshu!! or Golden Gash!! As of now this series has been completed and given an ending but don't let that worry you, it's still incredibly enjoyable. Zatch Bell also happens to have an anime for it, which I found to be quite good translated into English and even in the original Japanese versions(of course the dub censored a few things, but it's understandable). Zatch bell even had a game about it as well, a fighting game which I found to be incredibly fun to play!

Zatch Bell is about a teenage boy named Kiyomaro who gets sent a red book by his father, along with a strange and mysterious child who just so happens to have strange powers, like shooting lightning from his mouth! It turns out that these strange children who we learn to be called Mamodo are sent into the human world to do battle with, however they must find a suitable partner who will be able to cast spells for them.( kind of like a funny version of Pokemon huh?) Each child is different in the kinds of powers they can do, from ice powers to transformation and even singing; each child also has a number of spells that they can learn so that they can use them in battle, but only through certain situations and events to happen to them. All Mamodos must fight so that the victory may become to Mamodo king, 100 are sent into the human world and the only way for a Mamodo child to lose is to either have their book burned or for them to take such heavy damage that they would basically die(it may sound bad or gruesome but it's not as bad as you might think). Through clever wits and skill Kiyomaro and Gash(that's the young boy with yellow hair in the picture above, with Kiyomaro being the black haired boy with the red book) both fight other Mamodo and make friends and allies, which leads to some pretty good laughs and some sad times(I almost cried a few times while reading this to be honest).

For Zatch Bell, we would definitely classify it as a shounen(aimed at children, generally a battle style manga), but don't let that fool you, it is in fact incredibly good, especially if you just so happen to enjoy shounen style manga or anime. In regards to the art, it has a very shounen style; the art seems cartoon-ish of course but i frankly think it fits the style rather well. With most series(not just shounen), the art happens to progress and get better over time, looking above at the picture, you might be able to see how the artist's style turned out to be, I came around to end up loving the style the further I read into the series. Of course not everyone will love it, which is completely understandable, so I can only suggest that you give it a shot and just keep digging, eventually you may end up liking it!

Zatch bell is a battle style with a comic overlay manga and anime, while some of the jokes may seem silly and even some of the battles, you might find yourself letting out a little laugh! I enjoyed my time reading this, the author was able to make me laugh through his jokes and even the faces he drew for his characters in reactions. However if your not a joke kind of person and are looking for a more serious manga or anime, you may just want to read through his, while it may have a few jokes every now and then, it actually has some deep and dark themes, which are shown through character background stories and through events that happen to the characters.

Personally I enjoyed Zatch Bell 100% of the time I read it and the times I watched it; Zatch Bell can be series at times, sad at times, funny at times, and simply just plain weird at times! I'm sure this is a manga or anime that many people could like and have liked, I know my friends and people who I know that are familiar with manga and anime also enjoyed this series. This is one of the series you read because you simply love it and end up being sad because it has ended, you want more but you can't have anymore!

I hope this has persuaded some of you to possibly consider reading or watching Zatch Bell, because i enjoyed my time, and I'm sure you will as well!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hajime No Ippo!

For our next choice work of beauty we're going to talk about, I decided to choose Hajime no Ippo(also known as Fighting Spirit and The First Step). Now this one is quite a trip, its be going on for an incredibly long time, starting in 1990 and continuing today! What this manga is about is that it follows the young man of Makunochi Ippo who while in high school did not amount to anything and was basically a wallflower for his entire life(sad isn't it?). After a fight that he gets dragged into he meets a man who is a boxer, this man inspires Ippo to make something of himself and to challenge the world with something he loves. This manga is the tale of Ippo as he fights through numerous rings and bouts so that he may one day be the greatest boxer there is in his own weight class, starting from scratch and growing up to be who he is now. This series has also gotten two season worth of anime, a movie, and some OVAs(special anime episodes) season 1(Hajime no Ippo) has 52 episodes while season 2(Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger) has 26 episodes. The manga has over 900 chapters, so depending on if you like reading or watching, you can choose either, but the manga goes father then the anime! The art style for the series is quite good in my opinion, while it may start out a bit sill at first, it grows into something that in my opinion certainly fits the style or story. In my opinion I think this art style focuses on muscles and body structures and tries to emphasize those, which I think it does quite well, it also shows the actions and movements of each person quite well(even more so in the anime, and even more so then that in the second season!).

Ippo starts off without knowing anything, as most people would when they try to join a new sport, Ippo is trained by his coach into a rough tough boxer who is ready to take on anyone that wants to fight him. But don't let Ippo's muscular look fool you(that's Ippo above in the picture during his boxing career), he is actually a very nice person, when he is not in school he is helping his single mother with her job who takes men fishing very early in the morning or late at night lifting heavy equipment. However Ippo is very passionate about boxing, his family, and his friends and cares for all of them dearly, Ippo knows how to fight back to protect their honor and he even gives his prize money for fights to his mother to help make things easier for her to live(shes quite old you know).

As for the other characters in this series, I would say that they're all incredibly likeable and enjoyable to read or watch about. The Kamogawa gym(Ippo's boxing gym) is home to many different boxers that are all incredibly likeable. Throughout the story we learn about them, their past, and we watch or read along with them about their future. Takamura, who is the resident toughest man of the gym helps to guide Ippo through out his boxing career and show him the way; but don't let that fool you, he is also a prankster and completely full of himself! Aoki and Kimura are the other main characters of this story, we would be the tricksters of this gym but they know when to be serious and helpful. The coach of the gym can be tough at times, but that's only because he cares deeply for all of his boxers because he views them all as sons, when he seems angry sometimes, he's just hiding his happiness!

The fights are simply amazing to read or watch about, while they can be silly sometimes as in what happens during them,such as being over dramatic with talking(which is meant to explain things to the reader), as to the very characters themselves! Some fights are simply adrenaline pumping due to sheer amazing things that happen during them because of the characters back stories or how they themselves are and some are down right anger inducing because of the characters(Personally my favorite fight is Brian Hawk vs. Takamura, for those that know this series and follow it). Above is a picture of the movie Champion Road, an excellent movie which takes place after season 1 and before season 2(for those that may want to watch it). Some of the fights can get a bit disturbing sometimes due to the violence that happens during them, cheating bones breaking, cuts, and bruises; all look incredibly painful(To myself at least, one time someone punches another man incredibly hard and he hits the other man's elbow, thus breaking his hand! Ouch!).

While Ippo is a sports manga, it also has some comedy in it, shown by the characters of course, but just as a fore-warn, some of the jokes that happen in it are a bit strange. There are a few amount of penis jokes and all that, including bodily excretion(not a lot I promise). In general however, most of the other jokes are actually very funny!

So to sum things up, Hajime no Ippo is  a boxing manga that I think most people would be able to enjoy, while it may have some faults it certainly makes up for them with sheer amazing displays of fights and the loveable characters! I would think that anybody who reads it would certainly enjoy it(I know I certainly did when I watched the anime and caught up with the manga).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Two for One! Akagi and Kaiji

Up next we have two series that I am certain that everyone will be able to enjoy; first up on the left we have Akagi and on the right we have Kaiji(Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji). Both series are done by Nobuyuki Fukumoto who's main style of manga is around gambling and the seinen demographic(seinen basically means it is aimed more towards adults). All of Fukumoto's series seem to have dark themes to it and generally involve the underground of Japan and secret gambling that happen to earn large and incredible amounts of money. First we'll talk about Akagi because out of the two it is my personal favorite, but don't worry both are exceptionally good series to read or watch.

Now personally I enjoy a good game of mahjong which is the game depicted above. Akagi is about the main character, named Akagi! Akagi stumbles into a mahjong session going on one night and he happens to know nothing about the game, but he was very quick to pick it up; and the rest of the series is Akagi gambling large amounts of money and playing mahjong against many different players with large amounts of skill. Now you maybe thinking, (Why would I watch this? I don't know anything about this stupid mahjong game). I didn't know anything about mahjong either when I first picked up Akagi and I certainly was not able to follow everything that was going on; however the series was still able to captivate me and kept me entertained for the entire season. The series puts Akagi in dangerous situations where his very life is at stake and it leaves you wondering if he will be able to come out of it alive or not, in this series a simple game of mahjong can mean life or death for the people living in that world.(Also this series made me want to learn about mahjong so that I would be able to play the game and understand a bit more about Akagi on a second watch through, and i must say that I am certainly glad that I learned how to play mahjong; the same might happen to you that watch or read this series as well!)

Fukumoto has a very unique art style for his works, depicted above is a page from his manga version of Akagi. For most the art style pushes them away from his works even though they have such amazing story and are simply incredible. This art style is one that you will either come to love or continue to hate, in general among the fans all will agree that his art style while simple and weird for most but that it is simply amazing at it fits the story and the characters and will also say that they love his art style as well(I know I love it).

Akagi is a mysterious character himself,a teenager in the beginning of his story on how became who he is later on(Akagi also appears in another of Fukumoto's works, which is known as Ten another manga about mahjong). A mysterious youth whose mind is unreadable for all those that try to face him, when a normal person would back down and try to compromise, Akagi will continue to push forward with a disregard for his life to earn as much money as he possibly can. Akagi is also a cool headed individual that almost seems to be in control of the situation he is in all the time. Akagi is what makes this manga and anime watchable, if a person were to say everything about Akagi was bad, they would easily be able to agree on the fact that Akagi is watchable due to the character Akagi himself.

Up next we have the second part of this two bit suggestion for all of you, Kaiji! Kaiji is also done by Fukumoto but is almost nothing like Akagi except for the gambling theme that goes on within it. Kaiji is in 4 parts as of right now, 3 parts being completed and each featuring different gambling games that go on, from pachinko and mahjong to even rock paper scissors! The games that go on in Kaiji may seem strange to most if not everyone that read or watch it, but all of them are able to keep the viewers and readers entertained to the maximum, sometimes you might even almost fall out of your seat while watching Kaiji!

The character of Kaiji is a loveable oaf, he is not the brightest or the most handsome there is but he is loveable all the same. Kaiji is a nice guy down to his very heart and soul, but he has a thrill for gambling and getting money so that he may be able to ease his life even a little bit. Kaiji does not have the best of luck however, he continuously finds himself in terrible situations that he must crawl out of to live, I can almost assure you that for every good thing that happens to Kaiji himself, something terrible will happen to him as well, but that just makes it all the more interesting to read and watch!

On the top of the 4 parts Kaiji has, parts 1 has one complete season of an anime that I would highly suggest for you all to read, with part 2 getting an ongoing season right now! Part 3 is complete in manga form and part 4 is ongoing right now in manga form.

So that's Akagi and that's Kaiji for you all, I hope I was able to interest some of you into reading or watching one of them because I know that I certainly enjoyed my time watching both Akagi and Kaiji!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Baki the Grappler series

Up next for our interesting series we have the Baki the Grappler series of manga and anime, now this piece of work is a fighting manga following the character of Baki, the son of Ogre. The Baki series has been going on since 1991 and has had multiple manga which focus around different characters or stories, which an ongoing series right now entitled Baki: Son of Ogre, which is Baki's tale of him trying to get strongest and how he became who he is now. Baki is around the age of an old teenager and a young adult, he has been trained throughout his life to be an incredible martial artist and his goal in life is to one day defeat his father in combat, however his father just so happens to be The Ogre, otherwise known as the strongest man in the world.

I would consider this to be a must read or a must see if you happen to be a fan of fighting manga or fighting anime. The action that goes on in the fights is always interesting because of the styles of martial arts that it brings into it and the characters themselves that fight against each other are always interesting. There are many different characters which are all incredibly different and each bring some pretty interesting things to the table to show off to us, one man who seems small is in fact a master of karate and is able to punch through the sound barrier! Another man is covered in scars who almost seems to be indestructible and is able to destroy large solid steel jail doors and bars with a single punch.

What we have here are all the main characters of the Baki series, however we don't see them all the time of course, we Baki the most(center character).

Personally I think all of the characters are incredibly enjoyable and I love to see all of them and their fights, with my personal favorite being Hanayama Kaoru( bottom right with the glasses), or also known as Scarface due to all of his battles in the past leaving him incredibly scarred.

The art style for this series is also very unique to its story, I personally have never seen another art style like this done by another author or artist. Newcomers to manga or anime might be turned off by this style due to how strangle and how bizarrely the proportions of the human body and the anatomy for the people are; yet it is also one of those series that if you stick with it and continue to read it, you will end up loving the art style and thinking that it fits perfectly for this style of manga.
This being an example of the strange but unique art style. In the picture depicted above, it is Yujiro Hanma, or Baki's father who is the strongest man on Earth! He himself has defeated hundreds upon thousands of people and wildlife creatures, in fact he has defeated and slain a woolly mammoth in combat, however don't ask my why he did or how the mammoth got there in the first place, but I can say that it was simply amazing to read about.

So I would like to suggest this as a manga to read or an anime to watch for those that are interested in it, and I hope that if you do ending up reading the series and spin-offs, I hope you enjoy them! I found all of Baki to be incredibly enjoyable to read and enjoyed every minute of it, however I do understand that some people might not like it at first, but give it a chance and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The beginning to something that will hopefully be enjoyable for everyone alike! JOJO's Bizarre Adventure.

Well lets start this off with a kick and a bang shall we! Our first up to bat we have Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. A manga of multiple parts created by HIrohiko Araki, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a manga that has gone on from 1987 to current times, in Jojo there are what people call parts, which is the telling of one story focused around one person in the line of Joestar. Part 3 specifically received an anime about it which was simply amazing and which I consider a must see if you are able to find it, Part 5 and 3 received games with part 3being a fighting game and part 5 being a brawler, and finally part 1 recently had a movie made about it in Japan in 2007(sadly I myself am unable to find it in both stores or online so if you know anything, please feel free to tell me because I would simply love to watch it!).  In total there are 6 parts with a 7th being ongoing as we speak, each part has its own main character as a Joestar, while not all carry the Joestar last name, they carry the blood within them.

 In regards to each individual parts, each one has a special power as the focus to it, in parts 1 and 2, the main power that the Joestar would use is what fans and the characters in the manga and anime refer to as the Ripple, or Hamon for some. What we call the ripple is being able to harness the power of the sun in the human body and use it to fight your enemies with it. The villains of both parts 1 and 2 are what we in our time now would call Vampires, which of course are weak to the sun, so through the Ripple, our main hero and heroic partners are able to fight toe to toe with the villainous vampires. Moving on to the relative power of parts 3 and onward, it focuses around what fans and characters call a Stand, or a manifestation of willpower and spirit. Each stand is different for each person that is able to control and summon their stand, which allows us to see many different, amazing, and sometimes terrifying abilities; some powers range from controlling water, fire, magnetism and controlling iron itself to very strange powers such as being able to use zippers to fight against your enemies! While such things may seem and sound strange at first, while reading or watching Jojo, you're able to see incredible things and simple things used in such ways that you would almost never have thought of it being used that way!

The characters in Jojo are not to be forgotten as well, since each part focuses around a Joestar who generally happen to have a partner(s), it allows for the reader to follow many different characters and see many different things, the types of Joestar vary incredibly, from a young English boy who grows into a strong and brave man to a teenager who fights to save his friends and family to even a mafia member! Now I understand that I make these characters seem rather simple and bland, Araki is able to each character and mold them into incredibly loveable characters that you want to see what they will do next and if they will be able to survive and hope that they wont die in the heat of battle. Lets not forget the villains now of Jojo, each and every villain is just as memorable and sometimes as loveable as the Joestars, some times you simply wish for the villain to have more parts or to end up joining the Joestar side and fight against their former evil allies. Not all villains are like that though, some are simply considered amazing due to how they act, what they do, or what their powers are; some villains you want to see get defeated due to how Araki is able to take and mold them into what you hate the most.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a manga that to some may start off slowly, but do not fear and worry that you will find it boring because each part almost always and surely picks up speed and keeps you interested about what will happen next. Most fans, if not all, simply agree that reading Jojo's Bizarre Adventure was an incredibly enjoyable experience and they cannot wait for the next chapter or volume to come out so that they can continue reading.

Now on a personal note, my own favorite part was part 2 due to the Joestar of that being such a loveable character and being the most memorable and amazing, I also consider the best and my personal favorite Joestar to be Joseph in part 2 and part 3 due to his amazing plans and his battle tactics and his most famous battle strategy ever.

The image above is a fan made drawing of all the Joestars for each part, going from Part 1 on the left to part 6 on the right. Don't let their faces or anything else fool you, they are all incredible main heroes and I'm sure you'll love all of them if you decide to pick up Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.

Well everyone I hope I have convinced you, pushed you in the right direction, or nudged you into considering or reading Jojo's Bizarre Adventure! I enjoyed my time greatly while I read it and wait eagerly till I can read more. Thanks for your time everyone!