Archive for April, 2011

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Almost every anime has that one character that makes you want to punch them in the face or stop watching altogether. They could drive you nuts with a single catch phrase, an extremely annoying personality, or just the way they talk. Of the anime that I have seen so far, this is my top 5, plus 1 runner up.

Naruto Uzumaki

Naruto Uzumaki

Runner Up: Naruto Uzumaki

The title character of the anime, Naruto, he starts off as a 12 year old mischievous boy on the verge of failing out of ninja school. He was basically a dumb kid with crazy ambitions and a catch phrase that would make any die hard anime fanatic want to shoot themselves. If it hadn’t been for Japanese subbed episodes, I would not have made it through the first arc. “-ttebayo” is FAR more tolerable than the english half-translation of “BELIEVE IT!” after every sentence.

When he finally masters a move, the shadow clone jutsu, it’s exciting. And then he uses it, over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over…. and, he’s still incompetent. And it repeats; every new move he learns, he uses it over and over.

The reason Naruto is runner up is because, after the two and a half year time jump into Naruto Shippuden, Naruto redeems every annoyance of his. He has a variety of moves, actually strategizes his attacks, and has an intelligence when he fights that he did not have before. He progresses to the level of Sanin, can finally control the kyubii inside of him, has a huge emotional growth and gains a level of maturity to that of a superior ninja. His morals and motivation have been said to be on a higher level than most Jounins (highest ranking ninjas).

Uryuu Ishida

Uryuu Ishida

#5: Uryuu Ishida

Through the first arc of the amine Bleach, Uryuu was a fascinating character and my favorite one at that. Then the Bount arc that followed brought out a side of Uryuu that made me absolutely cringe. He became a total defenseless emo sap.

Uryuu is one of two Quincys that still remain, the other being his father. The Quincys are a race of humans who have a spiritual awareness and utilize bows instead of swords like soul reapers. They also pull spirit particles from their surroundings to power their weapons, while soul reapers use their own spiritual energy. Quincys have a pride for themselves and their power and see themselves as superior to soul reapers.

By the end of the Soul Society arc, and into the Bount arc, Uryuu has lost his powers. He then gets himself entangled with a Bount (vampire like humanoid), who, shortly after, is sacrificed. He goes into this unwitting depression that seems completely out of character for him. He is a freakin Quincy! He has a pride above any soul reaper, and he mopes about powerless and miserable for an entire arc.

Thankfully, he finally snaps out of it, thanks to the help of Nemu and Mayuri giving him a Quincy artifact that restores some of his powers.

Light Yagami

Light Yagami

#4: Light Yagami

From the series Death Note, Light is an extremely bright student and the son of the police chief. He comes across the Death Note and decides to use it to purge the world of evil. Eventually his mind warps to the point where he thinks he’s a god and that he’s going to be the god of the new world.

His most annoying attribute? His ridiculous schemes in which he has to cover his tracks, manipulate people, and kill people who don’t deserve it. He uses any and all loop-holes to his advantage and concocts complicated and downright crazy plans to keep the police off of his trail. He plants the Death Note on unsuspecting people, killing them after they get themselves captured, uses Misa’s love to his advantage by getting her involved, and even kills the most awesome character in the entire show, L.

Light wasted his brilliance in trying to cleanse the world and hide his identity as Kira, and the best part of the anime was when he kicked the bucket, in my opinion.

Rosette Christopher

Rosette Christopher

#3: Rosette Christopher

It’s been years since I’ve seen Chrono Crusade, so bear with me as I recall the details of the show with a little help from Wiki. I do, however, remember why this main protagonist drove me absolutely insane.

Rosette is a 16 year old exorcist in the Order of Magdalene. Her partner, Chrono, is a demon whom she has a contract with, that, in turn for his power, shortens her life. Because of her shortened lifespan, she constantly lives in the moment. Through the anime, Rosette is searching for her missing brother Joshua.

She has the most annoying voice in the entire world. No offense to her voice actress, Hilary Haag, because I’ve seen other works of hers, like Riku from DNAngel, and it didn’t bother me at all. Its been four years since I’ve seen the anime, and the only thing I can remember is “JOSHUA!” “JOSHUA!” UGH! It makes my ears bleed.

Black Star

Black Star

#2: Black Star

Episode 2 of Soul Eater introduces the second of three sets of main protagonists,  Black Star and Tsubaki. Black Star claims he’s an assassin, but the episode, and most of the series, proves otherwise. He’s brash, loud, immature, and horribly arrogant. He also has a few catchphrases including, “YAHOO!” and “I’m going to surpass god!” Somehow, his weapon partner, Tsubaki, puts up with him when she should just strangle him with her chain and get it over with.

He always thinks he’s on a stage, in a spotlight, and that everyone wants to see him and hear what he as to say. His arrogance gets himself into trouble in battle. He recites the steps to being an assassin as he attacks, but 80% of the time his pride gets the best of him and starts announcing himself. He’s also constantly picking fights, being uncooperative and short tempered in team battles, and doing stupid things, like stealing Stein’s test and subsequently getting nailed to the chalkboard (literally). It’s not until the last stretch in the anime, and three battles with ace samurai Mifune, does Black Star start to have a nobleness behind his arrogance. But I still want to strangle him.

I almost stopped watching Soul Eater at episode 2. Luckily, the rest of the cast and the story rock to the point that it masks his unbearable selfishness.

Aisha Clan Clan

Aisha Clan Clan

#1: Aisha Clanclan

As a member of the Ctarl Ctarl race in the anime Outlaw Star, Aisha is a humanoid with tiger attributes and the ability to turn into a beast depending on the strength of the moon. She has a run in with the main protagonists when their ships almost collide. She makes it her personal mission to find them and make them pay.

I stopped watching Outlaw Star for almost two years after she joins the main crew, halfway into the anime, just because I couldn’t bear to hear one more “Ctarl Ctarl” out of her mouth. She says those words far more than Naruto says “Believe it!” and that’s really saying somehting.

Coupled with her massive ego, either because of her racial pride or just plain arrogance, she talks almost constantly once she gets going and tends to be way overzealous. Her voice isn’t easy on the ears either, and she pretty much sounds like a cat being strangled, which wouldn’t be a bad idea for this tiger descendant.

honorary megane danshi badge“Honorary Megane Danshi″
part 3: Haji

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

My favorite character from Blood+, Haji, is the living companion of the main protagonist, Saya. In order to talk about Haji, I first need to talk about the main character. Saya, something of a vampire “queen,” was born along with her sister, Diva, one of the main antagonists. The vampire queens have the ability to create Chiropterans, or vampire like monsters, and Chevaliers, or humans with vampire attributes and the ability to transform partially or completely into Chiropteran forms. Chevaliers are also bonded by blood to the queen and act as a protector and companion.

Saya was raised by a man named Joel, while her sister was confined to a tower. She did not know she had a sister until many years later when she heard her singing in the tower. Diva was released from her captivity by Saya to sing for Joel on his birthday, but instead, she went on a bloodbathed rampage, killing everyone. At the time, Saya and Haji were not there.

Haji

Haji

Haji was purchased from his parents as a child, for a loaf of bread, to be Saya’s companion. During Joel’s birthday, he and Saya were out looking for Joel’s favorite flower. Haji falls off of a cliff, and in order to save him, Saya feeds him her blood. At the time, she didn’t understand the consequences but knew it would save him. Consequently, he becomes her Chevalier. There also appears to be some romantic links between the two.

Saya was also involved in Vietnam several years later. In a rage to find her sister, she goes on a rampage. She then runs into a man that she knows has information on Diva’s whereabouts and chases him into a village of innocent people. Haji tried to stop her, but in her blind rage she cut off Haji’s arm, and proceeds to slaughter all of the villagers. Haji’s arm permanently resembles that of a Chiropterans, so he keeps it bandaged. Shortly after, Saya enters a 30 year hibernation and, when she wakes up, has no recollection of anything, not even Haji.

She is then adopted and living a normal teenage life. After a run-in with a Chiropteran, Saya is tasked with killing Chiropterans, as well as her sister, utilizing her blood infused into her sword. Haji resurfaces and resumes his position by her side, though it takes most of the anime for her to regain her memories of him and her former life. Haji has the ability to transform into a Chiropteran, but he never does unless absolutely necessary.

The Vietnam events created a change in Haji, and he appears bitter and cautious after being reunited with Saya. He still remains loyal and eventually completely regains his feelings for her. Haji is a pure romantic toward her, which makes him a more love-able character, on top of the fact that he also fights extremely well. He doesn’t speak much, but he is extremely loyal. And he plays cello. Can it get better than that? It sure can. He also uses his cello case not only to house Saya’s sword but as a weapon itself. Now that is badass.

Anime Review: Moon Phase

Posted: April 26, 2011 in reviews
Tags:

no spoilers here.

Moon Phase

Hazuki, aka Luna

Moon Phase (Tsukuyomi) is about a vampire girl who is rescued from her captivity in a castle by amateur photographer Kouhei. After she bites Kouhei, she is freed from her servitude and chooses to follow him home, claiming him as her slave. Unbeknownst to her, and the rest of the vampire community, Kouhei is the “Vampire’s Lover,” or a human who, once bitten, will free vampires from their wills. The rest of the vampire community is outraged by him, and want nothing more than to bring Luna home. Luna, or Hazuki, learns what family really means, and that its not just all about blood (pun fully intended).

For me, the anime started slow. I got to episode 5, and then I stopped watching it over a year. Recently, I picked it back up and forced myself through it. After another episode or two, it began to pick up and get a lot more interesting.

Overall, it was worth a watch. The Neko-mimi (Cat-girl) shenanigans gets old really fast, but its not horribly distracting. And there’s Seiji Mido, a megane danshi, whom I will have a post on later. There are about two arcs, and about half way through the anime is a major plot shift which separates the two. Though the “first” final battle is entertaining, the last one is less than stellar and ends almost too abruptly. On a positive note, there is a wrap up episode (25) which was really nice.

Episode 26 is an encore filler, and I could have done without seeing it. The characters seemed to be either too much in character or completely out of character, and the whole episode was complete nonsense.

Another downside is that some loose ends are never tied up, especially when it comes to Kouhei’s mother. They appear to get close to an answer, and it may be inferred as to what happened, but no definite answers are given.

3.5/5

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Both of these guys, while at first appeared to be totally awesome megane danshi, have done enough things to warrant snapping their glasses in half. Kabuto will have his own Megane Danshi post later, as I was a huge fan of him for years, until they decided 300 episodes in to start a transformation that is absolutely unforgiveable. Aizen, on the other hand, didn’t have much of a shot at anything, as he was revealed early on that he was full of pure evil.

Aizen Sosuke

Aizen Sosuke, Squad 5 captain

Aizen Sosuke started out in the anime, Bleach, as squad 5’s captain in Soul Society. While at first Soul Society was enemy territory to the main protagonists, Ichigo and his party, the end of the Soul Society arc reveals that a third party had organized a plot to make them think they were against each other. During this arc, Squad 5 captain, Aizen, was nailed, dead, to the side of a tower. At the time, my heart sank, as I was excited that there was a megane danshi character, only for him to be murdered several episodes after his introduction.

As it turns out, his corpse was a planted fake, and the real master mind behind the plot was none other than Aizen himself. He intended to capture an extremely powerful sphere, the Hogyoku, that was inhabiting a fellow Soul Society squad member. The sphere blurs racial lines between humans, soul reapers and hollows, enabling the ability to utilize powers one could not obtain on their own.

Aizen Sosuke

Aizen, after revealing himself as the main antagonist

The plot involved pitting the 12 squad captains against each other and the execution of Rukia, who had the sphere implanted inside her decades prior without her knowledge. After extracting the sphere, with Rukia still alive, Aizen retreats to Hueco Mondo, another spirit realm.

At this point, Aizen’s appearance changes, including the dissolving of his glasses (yes!). Now he just looks like an evil tool, which is fine by me, because that’s what he is. Mid way into the Hueco Mondo arc, I lot interest in Bleach. I guess I can only handle one ongoing anime at a time, and right now I like Naruto Shippuden FAR better. Bleach has become full of random battles in which it takes 12 episodes to finish, not unlike DBZ. They also keep bringing out new powers in each new battle that I’m completely confused as to why they never used them sooner, as its not like they did any extra training or research or whatever prior to it.

Kabuto Yakushi

Kabuto Yakushi

Kabuto, though revealed semi-early on in Naruto as being on the side of the main antagonist Orochimaru, was always hard to decipher. Though Orochimaru never doubted Kabuto’s loyalty, he always questioned his motives, as does the viewer.

Despite his stated alliance, Kabuto heals protagonists on a couple of occasions without being asked. The first time, Hinata was having heart issues that she never recovered from during her Chuunin exam match. Kabuto, disguised as one of Konoha’s police force, the Anbu, pulls her aside and completely heals her. The second time, he heals Sakura after Naruto hurt her in his nine-tails cloak state. He had witnesses, and he explained to them that healing her would mean more people to take out Akatsuki members, a third party organization that is enemies of both Orochimaru and Konoha.

The mystery around his loyalty and motives is part of what makes him intriguing. He’s also probably the best medical ninja in existence, because of all the experiments and research he’s been a part of for Orochimaru. He’s intelligent and mysterious, such a winning combination. For 4 years I watched Naruto and enjoyed his character, and he is one of my favorite characters of all time.

Then he goes and destroys himself.

Kabuto, after implanting Orochimaru's cells

Kabuto, after implanting Orochimaru's cells

Orochimaru picked a losing fight with Sasuke, and he died. Kabuto decided it was a great idea to implant Orochimaru’s cells within himself. At first, I was like, ok, so he’s just got scales over his arm and half his face, that’s not too bad. He is still wearing his glasses, and now we know he could have cared less about Orochimaru, so he’s still mysterious. He was also seemingly a fair bit insane at this point, after thanking Naruto for bizarre reasons. Usually he’s on the quiet and reserved side. Everyone was confused. No one had any idea what he was going to do, not even the viewer.

Then he disappeared.

For a long time, he didn’t appear in the manga.

Kabuto Returns

Kabuto, in his new form

Turns out, he had a whole plan brewing from day one, including hoarding the bodies of well known deceased ninjas. Then he reappears to leverage this with Madara Uchiha, the ultimate antagonist of the series.

And I wanted to cry when I saw him.

The entirety of his skin is now scaly and white. He’s got Orochimaru’s eyes and a snake for a tail. He even turns into a full fledge snake at one point. His hair is all shorter and scraggly, and he stays shrouded in a cloak with moth eyes on the hood. This, surely, can’t be Kabuto.

I have never been more upset with a turn of events in an anime. I do not accept this transformation, and for all intents and purposes, Kabuto is dead. He died when he let Orochimaru into himself (and you may take that phrase however you see fit). I don’t know who this new cloaked, snake freak is, but surely he’s not the intelligent and mysterious Kabuto Yakushi.

“Megane Danshi″
part 4: Jade Curtiss

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

This article is strictly on the anime, as I have not played the video game.

Jade Curtis

Jade Balfour, aka Jade Curtiss

Jade Curtiss is a protagonist in Tales of the Abyss, but for several episodes after he makes his initial appearance, you can’t help but question whether or not he’s good or bad. His loyalties become apparent relatively quickly, though, and you realize his personality is just very stoic and cold. He also has a very dry, sarcastic humor, which lends well to the comic relief, but can teeter on the point of being cruelly intended. He always appears to be relatively cheerful, which tends to hide his true feelings or thoughts.

Jade is colonel for the Malkuth empire, the other of two warring continents that make up the earth (Auldrant), and the enemy nation of the main protagonists Luke and Tear. It’s partly for that reason Jade seems like a bad guy at first, capturing them after a fonic resonance send the pair flying into enemy territory. It turns out, though, that Jade is on a mission to get a message of peace from King Peony (Malkuth) to Luke’s father, the King of the other continent, Kimlasca.

Jade Balfour, age 9

Before he was Jade Curtiss, he was known as Dr. Jade Balfour, and also as “Jade the Necromancer.” Jade Balfour grew up in a pretty, snow covered port town called Ketersburg in the Malkuth empire. He and his little sister, Nephry, were good friends with two of Jade’s classmates, Saphir (Dist the Reaper) and Peony (the future emperor). Jade had an extraordinary command of the fonic arts at a young age and even created formicry, the art of replicating phonons from one object or person and creating a complete replica, at the age of 9 to replace his sister’s broken doll. The event scared her more than soothed her, and she refers to Jade in the present as having been “a devil” as i child. He had no sympathy for other creatures, and frequently practiced powerful fonic arts on innocent monsters.

The three boys had a teacher, professor Nibilim, whom Jade admired very much and helped him see the errors of his ways. She was a healer who had control of the seventh fonon, a very rare ability. One day, Jade attempted to control the seventh fonon, creating an explosion that killed their professor. Saphir was also present during the incident, and the two of them decided to study fomicry and use it to create a copy of their teacher. Eventually, they were able to successfully replicate her, but because they couldn’t replicate memories and personality, they unintentionally created a monster that Jade ended up having to seal away.

Recognized for his achievements, Jade was adopted into the House Curtiss, a prominent military family, and eventually rose to colonel of the Malkuth empire. He continued his fomicry research, picking up bodies off of battlefields, earning himself the nickname of “Jade the Necromancer.”

Eventually the formicry research was taking an enormous toll on Jade’s health, and Emperor Peony convinced him to put an end to it. Jade abandoned his research and put a ban on its continued practice on living organisms. Dist, feeling that Jade had abandoned their favorite teacher, continued the research as one of the 6 god generals under Van, the main antagonist of the series. Sadly, Jade kills Dist in a very heart wrenching moment, bidding his friend Saphir goodbye.

Through much of the series, Jade basically plays the ‘all-knowing’ character, as well as somewhat of a father figure to an all teenage (and early 20s) cast of companions. Jade’s 35 and tells them that he’s going to make them all crazy by the time he’s 40. Jade is also extremely good at figuring people out and deducing their secrets. His observational skills and knowledge make him the funnel that draws out the pasts and problems that each person in the party is hiding about themselves. He’s also extremely powerful, but doesn’t demonstrate much through most of the anime after having a seal placed on him by the enemy early on. By the end of the anime, he’s able to slowly crack away at the seal to the point where it hardly effects him. I think that’s pretty convenient for the story line; after all, you can’t have Jade simply destroy every bad guy along the way, right?

Jade’s cold, solid exterior starts to deteriorate as the anime winds down. As Luke says his goodbyes, Jade refers to him as a friend, to which Luke is taken aback. Jade apologizes for being so cold, which is what he assumed made Luke not think that they were friends. Then, on their final night before the ending battle, Jade tells Anise that he’s planning on resuming formicry research after life returns to normal again. But this time, he’s going to expand his research into developing a way for replicas to have a purpose in life.

And now on another note, Jade does not actually need glasses, which is not revealed in the anime but the game. His fonic power originates from his eyes, making them appear red. He uses glasses to help control his power, even though he’s pretty good at it on his own. Also something I found pretty funny; when he’s getting ready to use his fonic arts in the final battle, he spins his glasses in the air with a single finger. That’s talent.

honorary megane danshi badge“Honorary Megane Danshi″
part 2: Gaara

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Gaara, who starts out as a minor antagonist in the first 80 episodes of Naruto, becomes a major protagonist and icon by the time Naruto Shippuden rolls out. The dark rings around his eyes qualify as glasses, right? Haha, he’s honorary anyway.

Back in 2006, I had just come home from a long summer of being a camp counselor in August. I was watching television with my twin sister when we stumbled upon this anime, Naruto. The episode was the start of the chuunin exams when they take the test, and we were both hooked. (Thankfully that was my first experience with it, had I started from the beginning, I might’ve never got that far in, thanks to Naruto’s annoying tendencies.) At the time, I was sporting a look of shorter, red hair and I always had my signature ring of eyeliner.

Gaara

Gaara, age 13, toward the end of Naruto

When I saw Gaara, it was like love at first sight. He physically looked different than the other characters, and his almost silent and creepy disposition made him something of an intrigue when I watched. He also reminded me of Sydney Carton (my favorite literary character of all time), from A Tale of Two Cities, and his line “I care for no man, and no man cares for me.”  As I continued to progress with Naruto, a whole backstory filled in for Gaara that made my heart ache for him, and his tranformation makes him one of the most dynamic round characters I’ve ever seen.

Like the title character, Naruto Uzumaki, Gaara was implanted with a powerful tailed beast (before he was born). Because of this, his mother died giving birth, and he was raised to be something of a weapon for the Sand Village, Sunagakura. He was given the name Gaara, which means “self-loving carnage” or “demon who only loves himself,” as a testament to her hatred for the village.

Gaara, age 6

I’m not sure if he couldn’t control his power and sand manipulation abilities, or if he just didn’t know how, but he constantly terrified the villagers and other kids, no matter how good his intention were. At the time, Gaara lived with his uncle (or aunt, depending on translations, but I’m convinced its his uncle) who harbored a hatred for Gaara for the death of his sister, Gaara’s mother. Also, because of the sand’s protectiveness (which is said to be infused with his mother’s protection), Gaara has never felt pain before, as the sand continually shields him prior to any injury. And the tailed beast that resides in Gaara makes him unable to sleep, hence the dark rings, so his personality is extremely unstable.

Such a combination made Gaara an uncontrollable threat by the time he was 6 years old, so much so that his father hired assassin after assassin to kill him. One night, Gaara discovered that the assassin was none other than his uncle, who revealed his hatred just before he suicide bombed himself (Gaara remained untouched, thanks to the sand), and it destroyed him. Everything his uncle taught him about love and caring for others was shattered, and Gaara etched the kanji “Ai,” meaning “love,” on his forehead as a proclamation that he can only love himself. Unlike Naruto, who faced a similar lonlieness and resorted to mischief for attention to prove his worth, Gaara decided that to prove his own worth, he needed to kill anyone who crossed him.

Gaara, age 12

Gaara, age 12, during Chuunin exams

As a 12 year old in the start of Naruto, Gaara is a monster, and he’s absolutely insane. He wants nothing more than to throw down with Sasuke to prove he can not only beat, but destroy him. He mercilessly annihilates three shinobi with a single sand attack during the Forest phase of the Chuunin exam. In his battle with Rock Lee at the third phase of the Chuunin exams, he crushes all of the bones in Lee’s right leg and arm, making him unable to fight for an extremely long time. The night before the final Chuunin exam battles, he murders a Sound ninja without even a thought.

After Orochimaru murders the Fourth Kazekage and parades as him in disguise, he tries to use Gaara as a weapon to destroy Konoha. The plan backfires when Gaara can no longer contain his bloodlust and the tailed beast makes its appearance too soon. At this point, he’s engaged in a fight with Naruto, who musters all of his strength and some of his tailed beast’s chakra, to take down Gaara. He explains to Gaara, as they lay unable to fight, that the two of them have had similar childhoods, and that love is what validates your existence, not killing, and fighting for those you care about makes you strongest of all. Defeated, and moved by Naruto’s words, Gaara’s personality does almost a full 180, starting with a simple apology to his team mates and siblings, Temari and Kankuro.

Throughout the rest of Naruto (before Shippuden), Gaara is seen helping Konoha in their battles, namely Rock Lee’s battle with Kimimaro (top most image). He and his two siblings also become ambassadors between the Sand and Leaf villages, and work with them to help set up a ninja training school in the Sand village. He sites Naruto as his inspiration and strives to uphold the same ideals.

Gaara, age 15, as Kazekage

Gaara, age 15, as Kazekage

At the dawning of Naruto Shippuden, 15 year old Gaara has replaced his father as the Fifth Kazekage. He defends his village brilliantly when it is attacked by Akatsuki. Unfortunately, Gaara is kidnapped and killed as his tailed beast is drained from him. After Naruto rescues his body, he is so upset about Gaara’s death that he lashes out at the Sand villagers. He blamed them for implanting the tailed beast and being responsible for all the time he suffered. His rant touched the heart of a Sand village elder, Chiyo, who had long abandoned the Sand village because she hated the way things were done. She used a forbidden puppet master’s jutsu to resurrect Gaara, in exchange for her own life. Upon waking up, Gaara is shocked to see the number of people who were excited to have him back, including his whole village. For the first time, Gaara felt loved in return.

Now as the shinobi world has been enveloped in a world war, Gaara rose amongst all the Kages to become the leader of the Joint-Shinobi army.

He was created as a weapon, feared and neglected for his power, and he turned to a life of hate. His encounter with Naruto ignited a spark that changed him into the most revered figure in the entire shinobi world. Epic win.

“Megane Danshi″
part 3: Loki/ Leo the Lion

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Loki

Loki

Loki, or sometimes spelled Loke, is a fascinating character with an intense backstory, from the anime/manga Fairy Tail. Though he doesn’t wear prescription glasses, he is always wearing light colored sunglasses, so it counts.

Loki is introduced as being just another Fairy Tail mage who also happens to have a healthy interest in women. In fact, he usually has several girlfriends at one time. Despite this, he is extremely respectful of women and will always wholeheartedly defend a woman who is being mistreated. He is also revealed to be terribly afraid of the main female character, Lucy, because she is a Stellar Spirit Summoner. The fear is written off by fellow guild members as Loki once having had a bad experience dating one. But, its so much deeper than that.

Leo

Loki's true form as Leo the Lion

Loki has his own two episode arc, 31-32,  and his entire past is revealed. He himself is a Stellar Spirit named Leo the Lion, one of the twelve golden keys that corresponds to the Astrological symbols, the most powerful of the Stellar Spirits. Lucy discovers that Leo was owned by an infamous Stellar Spirit summoner by the name of Karen Lilica. Karen had multiple boyfriends at a time, just like Loki did with girls, and he even admits to picking up that lifestyle in remembrance of Karen. But unlike Loki, Karen was cruel and heartless, especially toward her Steller Spirit Aries. She passed her off to boys she didn’t want to deal with, used her as a shield, even struck her, and then threatened to keep her summoned for a week straight which was thought to torture a Stellar Spirit, if not kill them. Coming to Aries rescue, Leo forced himself out and Aries back, and he demanded Karen free them or he wouldn’t go back to the Spirit realm. No matter how much Karen tried, she couldn’t force him to go back.

After 3 months of being in the Earth realm, Loki is able to deal with the physical ramifications of being in the world he doesn’t belong. He decides to forgive Karen for now, but continue to protect Aries if the need ever arose. Upon returning, he discovers that Karen attempted to do missions without the use of her Stellar Spirits, as she could not summon more than one at a time, seeing as Leo was already active. Unable to defend herself, she died. Leo couldn’t return to the spirit realm, after having caused his master’s death.

Fast forward three years, and his time in the Earth realm is up, and Loki’s beginning to fade from existence. When Lucy discovered what had happened, she tried coming to his aid by forcing the Leo gate open. In doing so, she roused the Spirit King, and demanded he change his mind. She summoned all of her keys at once, something that takes a lot of power and strength to do, and tries to convince the king that protecting your friends is not a sin. The king reconsiders and allows Loki to return to the Spirit realm as Leo the Lion. Now Leo serves Lucy as his new master.

“Everything you need to learn in life, you learn from Anime”
Part 2: Naruto & Naruto: Shippuden.

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Most anime have a central theme, but Naruto and its continuation, Naruto: Shippuden, seems to have several, and rightfully so with its 400+ episodes and counting. Let’s break it down, shall we?

1. Never give up.

Naruto Uzumaki

Naruto Uzumaki

Everyone who’s seen the English dub all agree on the annoyance of Naruto’s translated speech tic “Believe it!” But essentially, that is how the title character, Naruto Uzumaki, lives his life: in the light of dreams to happen.

His ultimate goal since episode 1 has always been “I’m going to be Hokage some day!” For those of you not absorbed in the Naruto sphere, the -kages are extremely powerful ninjas who are the leaders of their respective villages. In the beginning, 13 year old Naruto was a trouble maker who could hardly do a simple clone technique. Fast forward to Shippuden and 15 year old Naruto has already succeeded his master as one of the legendary Sanin (3 Sages), saved his hometown from the destruction of Pein, and has now launched himself to take part in the Great Shinobi War after learning to control the Kyubii inside of him.

His true strength doesn’t even come from a ninja technique, even though he’s perfected a fair few, one that even his Fourth Hokage father had created. Naruto has an uncanny ability to relate to people, having lost his parents as a baby and being tormented for the better part of his life. This ability turns enemies into new friends and allows comrades to put their complete faith in him. After Pein destroyed his village, it was not his Sage powers that defeated him, though they did a pretty good job of taking out his 6 rinnegan puppets. His conversation with the “real” Pein, aka Nagato, not only changed his thinking, but made him want to repent by using his last rinnegan path to reverse the death toll he created. Had Naruto just outright defeated Pein, hundreds of people would have remained dead, including some of whom Naruto was very close to. But Naruto identified with Nagato’s pain and wanted to bring closure between the two of them.

Naruto and Gaara

Naruto and Gaara

His ability to change people has been the central focus throughout most of the arcs and fillers, including:

  • He convinced Tsunade to become the 5th Hokage, by not backing down from Kabuto and throwing himself in front of Tsunade when he tries to finish her off.
  • He showed Gaara, another tailed beast carrier, that he’s not alone and inspired him to strive to protect people, like Naruto, enabling Gaara to eventually become Kazekage. (more on Gaara in a later post, he’s a soon to be honorary megane danshi, as I find him one of the most dynamic and provoking characters in Naruto)
  • After Gaara’s death, Naruto becomes so upset, lashing out at the sand village for having burdened Gaara with the tailed beast and blaming them for his childhood pain. Chiyo, an elder who had distanced herself from the sand village, moved by Naruto’s genuine emotion, ends up giving her life to resurrect Gaara, confident that the ties between the two gives hope that the future generation is well off.

Naruto has a very mature thought process for a 15 year old, and as his skills keep exponentially improving, its not so farfetched that Naruto will one day become Hokage.

2. The healing that being acknowledged by somebody does, and fighting for that person closest to you makes you a stronger person.

Iruka and Naruto

Iruka and Naruto

This is the theme that I think resounds the strongest in the entire series, and if I had pick a single theme for the series, its this one.

Naruto was alone most of his life. His parents died at a young age, and the habitation of the kyubii inside his body made him an outcast from the rest of the villagers, including his classmates. Causing mischief became his MO for attention, but for the most part, Naruto was an abandoned 12 year old boy. Then someone believed in him.

Iruka was Naruto’s teacher, and the two formed a bond. From then on, Naruto no longer felt rejected, and he fought hard to grow as a ninja. He cites his ties with Iruka for being the very foundation of the change in his behavior. From there, he obtains more friends: his team with Sakura, Sasuke, and Kakashi, as well as his other peers, then Jiraiya. After Sasuke abandons Konoha, Naruto spends most arc and fillers fighting to retrieve his once “friendly” rival and team mate. Aside from becoming Hokage, this becomes one of his greatest goals, ever since he made a promise to Sakura.

Zabuza and Haku

Haku (left) and Zabuza (right)

Aside from Naruto and his connections, other pairs or groups of characters have made their appearance throughout the series who fight to protect their special someone, mostly in fillers and movies. The most notable pair from the series is Zabuza and Haku. Zabuza, a legendary swordsman of the mist, happened upon an orphaned Haku and decided to keep him as a tool. Over time, their bond strengthened, and even though Haku was not inherently evil, he followed the ways of Zabuza who was very dear to him. In Naruto’s team’s battle with them, Haku gives his life to protect Zabuza. Zabuza follows after shortly when he is mortally wounded. Naruto’s team leader, Kakashi, respects the pair, and reiterates that respect when the two make their appearance again in the Shinobi World War.

And now a direct quote from the anime. Right in episode 79 of Naruto, the 3rd Hokage himself says, “I have taught you (Orochimaru) before, that when you protect something important to you, a ninja’s true strength will manifest!”

3. The atrocities of war and the never-ending cycle of pain.

Pein's "Deva Path" through Yahiko's body

Pein's "Deva Path" through Yahiko's body

This theme mostly revolves around the trio of Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko, but is touched upon in many arcs and fillers. The cycle goes like this: two enemy shinobi engage in battle, and one of them dies. A loved one of the dead shinobi seeks revenge, and once fulfilled, is sought for revenge by the loved one of the person he killed. It continues in that manner, people’s loved ones dying in a never-ending cycle of hate.

As children, Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko were orphaned during the bloodshed that occurred between two warring countries who happened to host their battles in the neutral Rain country. Naruto’s master, Jiraiya, took pity on the three and took them in for a period of time and taught them ninjutsu and how to care for themselves. With Nagato’s rinnegan abilities, Jiraiya praised him as the savior to the ninja world, the one who could truly bring peace.

Sometime after Jiraiya left, the three were caught in an ambush by Hanzo, the leader of their country, and Nagato was forced to kill either Konan or Yahiko. Yahiko killed himself, telling Nagato to continue on with Jiraiya’s dream. Nagato, having witnessed the deaths of his parents, his dog, and his best friend, felt even more strongly about bringing peace, but his methods changed.

Feeling abandoned and victimized, Nagato began using his six paths of pain via his rinnegan and started calling himself Pein. He hatched a plan to wipe out everyone, to start form scratch and break the cycle of pain. He used Yahiko’s body to host one of the paths, and his “new identity.” If you google Pein, that’s the face you get, Yahiko’s.

Then he came face-to-face with Naruto, after having leveled Konoha (Naruto’s village) and killing hundreds of people, including both of his sensei’s, Jiraiya and Kakashi. Instead of finishing Pein off, he figures out where Nagato is hiding and seeks to speak with him in person. He confesses to Nagato that he wants nothing more than to get revenge for slaying his town and loved ones, but he knows that it won’t fix anything. Naruto reveals that he was named after the “savior” Jiraiya wrote about in his book, and that Jiraiya had entrusted him now, not Pein, to find peace.

After proving himself, Nagato relents and uses his last path of life and death to reverse the death he had caused that day. Nagato, just before he dies, puts his faith in Naruto that he really is the savior that Jiraiya had mentioned.

4. The “king” to protect is not the leader, its the future generation.

Asuma and Shikamaru playing Shogi

Asuma and Shikamaru playing Shogi

In an analogy of Shogi (chess), Shikamaru and his sensei, Azuma, have a deep discussion about why shinobi fight. They both agree that all pieces move to protect the “king.” At first Shikamaru thinks that the “king” refers to the Hokage, and Azuma tells him that that was what he had thought at first, too. Azuma decides he’ll tell Shikamaru at a later time.

And later does come. As Azuma lays dying, his last words to Shikamaru were who the “king” actually is: the unborn and the children that make up the future generation. He learned this after his lover, Kurenai, became pregnant with his child. Shikamaru vows to protect Azuma’s unborn child, and plans to be the child’s sensei in the future.

Chouji Akimichi, Manga chapter 533

Chouji Akimichi, Manga chapter 533

The future generation theme is also carried out via other characters, namely Shikamaru’s best friend, Chouji. This part has not made it into the anime yet, but it is in the manga, actually it was last week’s chapter. *SPOILER WARNING if you’ve finished the anime to date (4/23/11)  but not the manga. So if you don’t want to know, dont read the next bit *  Team 10 has to face their re-animated and mind controlled sensei, Azuma, and Chouji is having a hard time with it. Chouji has flash backs to when he became a chuunin. His dad talks to him about becoming the head of the 16th generation of the Akimichi clan, to which Chouji is very scared and reluctant. Now after having nearly died twice to protect his son at this point, Chouji finally breaks through the fear, defeating the shell of Azuma, and claiming his title as the present generation. *END MANGA SPOILER*

The theme of protecting one’s future generation goes hand in hand with the theme of having a special person or persons to fight for (see #2 above).

So to sum it all up, here goes. Loneliness creates a despair that the person is useless, shrouding them in darkness, and the reaching out of a friend makes all the difference. Having a purpose means to be able to protect someone close to you, including the future generation. War creates a cycle of hate, because people fight to protect the people they care most about, and if they fail, revenge breeds more revenge. There has to be a way to peace, through the understanding of pain.

Now to end on a quote from Gaara, “Love? Is that what makes him (Naruto) so strong?”

“Honorary Megane Danshi″
part 1: Hatori Sohma

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

Hatori Sohma

Hatori Sohma, the "Dragon"

In this series of posts, I award Honorary glasses to characters I think are awesome enough to be “Megane Danshi.”

The first recipient is Hatori Sohma of Fruits Basket, the doctor of the Sohma family. Thirteen members of the direct line of the Sohma family have the curse of transforming into an animal of the Chinese Zodiac. Hatori is the dragon, but he actually transforms into a seahorse.

As the doctor, he has the unfortunate ability to erase the memories of people who discover their family’s secret, including his former fiance, Kana. After asking the head of the Sohma family, Akito (not cursed with any animal, but the god-spirit itself, making all cursed Sohma’s unable to disobey), if he could marry her. Akito got angry and threw a vase at him, nearly making him blind in one eye. Feeling responsible, Kana couldn’t live with herself, so he erased all her memories of them together to take her pain away.

From then on, he’s considered to be cold as ice because of the incident, and the theme of winter hangs over his head. But the icicles eventually melt for Hatori. Eventually he gets himself a new love, Kana’s best friend who has always had a crush on him.

Because he is nearly blind in his left eye, I think he does have a pair of glasses (can anyone confirm that?), but since he doesn’t wear them, I can’t consider him a Megane Danshi. But as a doctor, and a pretty awesome character with a tragic back story, he gets the first pair of honorary glasses! ❤

Futago: Twins!

Posted: April 21, 2011 in random articles
Tags: ,
Hitachiin Twins

Kaoru (left), and Hikaru (right) Hitachiin

spoilers abound. you have been warned.

A subject I relate to: Twins, or in Japanese, Futago! I am also a twin. Her name is Alicia, and she is also a Japanese and anime fan like me!

If I say Hikaru and Kaoru, you might think of the Hitachiin twins from Ouran Highschool Host Club, right?

These two trouble makers go on a self discovery journey in the Host Club, started by Tamaki’s persistence in playing the “Which one is Hikaru” game and inviting them to expand their world by joining the Host Club. Their borders are further broken down when Haruhi reveals she can tell them apart based on their personality, despite them wearing hats and dying their hair.

Hikaru is generally more outspoken, and a little more dense in the emotional state of others. Kaoru is more observant, reserved, and gentle.

Kaoru (left), and Hikaru (right) Mido

Now what about the Mido twins from Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase? They’re also named Hikaru and Kaoru. Weird, right?

These two little girls are basically elemental mages (World of Warcraft analogy, sorry ^_^) and are the cousins (and betrothed) to the the main character Kouhei (Kaoru) and their cousin Seiji (Hikaru). Whether the betrothals are serious or not is debatable, but it does strike a lot of initial animosity toward Hazuki (the title character) who has a strong tie to Kouhei.

Their names are not the only things in common with the Hitachiin twins. Kaoru is shy, quiet, and a bit of a crybaby, while Hikaru is outspoken and somewhat aggressive. Though similar dynamics exist between both twins, the difference is more obvious between the Mido twins.

In comparison, my twin and I are more like the Hitachiin twins; she is more reserved than I am, but our dynamics are not as pronounced.