Thursday, January 15, 2009
Overall Rating: A
Summary: A fantasy drama shōnen series based on 10-volumes fantasy of novels. The series follows Balsa, a formidible spearwoman and bodyguard, who protects the lives of others to atone for a past sin. In the first episode, she happens to save the second prince, Chagum, of the Imperial family after an accident. After she proves her skill with a spear, Balsa is tasked with hiding and protecting the child by his mother.
However, Chagum's father, the Emperor, is trying to have the child killed, because he believes the child is possessed by a demon. The Emperor is convinced that the demon will bring misfortune and destruction to the country, and so he has been arranging "accidents" to kll Chagum. If Balsa can save Chagum, then it is the last life she needs to save for her atonement.
I had heard some good things about this series, and Anime Insider claimed it was the best drama of 2008, so I decided to check it out, and so far I'm impressed. I haven't read the novels, but the series has a solid plot, and the characters are interesting. If you like fantasy, strong female characters, and an interesting, involved plot, then I definitely recommend this one.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Overall Rating: A
Summary: This 26 episode fantasy/supernatural/action shonen anime is based on the manga of the same name. The series is set in a world where humans coexist with creatures called the Yoma, which are sentient monsters that eat humans (specifically their guts). The Yoma can take on the appearance of a human, and so often infiltrate villages and kill the villagers off slowly.
To combat the Yoma, a nameless, secretive organization create human/yoma hybrids by implanting Yoma flesh into humans. These hybrids are known as Claymores, because of the large swords they all carry. Villages can hire the Claymores to protect themsleves from the yoma, for a large fee.
All Claymores are wormen, and all have similar features. The latter is the result of the hybridization process, and makes their hair light-blonde/white, and they develop elf-like ears. Despite the protection Claymores provide, they are almost universally feared because of their Yoma heritage.
The series follows Claire, a Claymore who is ranked 47th out of a possible 47. In other words she supposedly sucks. However, she continually demonstrates what a bad ass she is, so there is a great deal of question about why she is 47th. Early on in the anime, she meets an incredibly annoying kid named Raki, who is exiled from his village after his family is killed by a Yoma. Despite his incredibly annoying behavior and the fact that he is often down-right stupid, Claire breaks character and the two become friends. He is the worst part of this anime.
I had heard a lot of good things about both the manga and the anime, and so I decided to check this one out. I immediately liked Claire, and as the series progressed, and I learned more about the Claymore, I got more interested in the plot and supporting characters. Well, everyone except for Raki, whose voice is incredibly whiny and made me wish he would die almost everytime he was on screen. Luckily, there are many episodes where he doesn't appear at all, or only briefly. The other issue is that many of the Claymore look very similar and it can become difficult to tell who is who in scenes with multiple Claymore. I would probably give the series an A+ if it wasn't for those two issues. If you like bad ass women with large swords, and a good plot (and who doesn't?), then check this one out.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Overall Rating: B+
Summary: Created by Aya Kanno, this action/suspense shonen ai series is very interesting, if nothing else because it's a lot darker than most shojo. In fact, Blank Slate has little in common with most series under the Shojo Beat imprint, with little to no focus on romantic relationships, love triangles or other typical shojo tropes.
The series follows Zen, an incredibly beautiful and infamous criminal, whose memory has been wiped. Supposedly, Zen is the "worst criminal in history", and has killed a large number of people. He is hunted by the police, bounty hunters, and pretty much anyone else with a reason to want Zen captured/dead (which is apparently 99.9% of everyone).
However, from Zen's point of view, he just woke up one day with an urge to destroy and kill. As he describes it, those two words have consumed him since he woke up, and so he has done just that. While the main character in the series is most certainly Zen, the manga has a secondary storyline about how people who meet Zen change because of his actions.
The first chapter of volume 1 introduces a bounty hunter who is out to take down his number one target, and "control Zen's future" (by which he mostly means kill him). Yet, after pretending to become Zen's partner to get close to him, he ends up being the one who is controlled by Zen, and even sides with Zen in the end.
The first volume ends with the introduction of someone who knows about Zen's past, and gives some hints to what's coming in this suspenseful series.
I saw "Blank Slate" on the shelf at Borders a couple of times before reading a blurb about it on http://www.boingboing.net. After hearing a little more about the series, I decided to pick up the first volume and check it out. It's definitely not what I would expect from Shojo Beat, but the obvious shonen ai vibes seem to be the primary reason it's on the imprint. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and am excited about seeing the series develop. My only complaint (and why I didn't give it an A) is that it took awhile before Kanno gives you the juiciest plot hooks. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book, and am excited about checking out the next volume.
Read the first 19 pages of the first volume!