Tag Archive: Manga


The Gods Among Us ~ Noragami

noragami

“Even if things are painful and tough, people should appreciate what it means to be alive at all.”

A lost cat, a strange encounter and a bus. This is how it all started for Hiyori Iki as she walked with her friends on what could have been any ordinary day. As the three friends stop to look at a small ‘lost cat’ poster of Milord, they joke of Hiyori’s closet martial arts obsession and shake their heads as she completely zones out into her own little world. It is then, as they pass by a beautiful stranger with dark hair and piercing blue eyes, that everything changes. Her friends don’t bat an eye at his passing, but Hiyori notices him and turns to watch as he calls for Milord at the top of his lungs. At sight of the small feline across the street, the young man jumps into oncoming traffic only to be knocked out of the way by Hiyori trying to save his life. Oh, what a day!

Noragami yato

After awaking in the hospital, Hiyori finds the young man in her room and he introduces himself as Yato, a minor god. It turns out, Yato is so minor that not only is his name hardly recognized but he doesn’t even have his own shrine and he works minor jobs (such as saving lost cats) in order to earn money and gain a reputation to match his large ego and dreams. The next time their paths cross, Yato points out that Hiyori is a little bit different since they saved each other at the accident: Hiyori has become a hanyou, a half phantom that on occasion will separate from her own body and walk among the realm of the far shore – the realm of phantoms and gods.

noragami Bisha

From that point on, Hiyori becomes entangled in the lives of the gods – beings that exist alongside humans, although most people do not have the ability to even notice them unless the gods allow it. While many gods remain at their shrines, others go out and seek to eliminate phantoms that have crossed onto the near shore, the realm that humans inhabit. These gods fight with weapons called Regalia – spirits who are found and named by the gods after their death and take on a weapon form to work in tandem with their masters. Yato names a new regalia Yukine, a young troubled youth who wishes only to be alive like everyone else and causes much pain to his new master through his reckless actions.  The three encounter other gods in the area as well as their Regalia which bring friendship, loyalty, vengeance and betrayal – with none more mysterious than the disowned and renounced Regalia, Nora.

noragami nora

Noragami (meaning ‘stray god’) is a supernatural/action/comedy manga and anime that was recently aired running 12 episodes. Providing an entertaining premise and story mixed with a beautiful art style, the episodes keep audiences interested throughout their entirety. While the story line itself could easily be more in depth, the way different aspects and elements are strung together create a riveting and synonymous tale from beginning to end. For the length of the series it is very well done and gives an entertainment value that many fail to do quite so well. As the three somewhat unwilling strangers survive trials and grow ever closer, they all learn much about themselves and each other – even when the darkest of pasts come to light.

noragami hiyori

Despite harrowing circumstances, people can sometimes change each other for the better. Friendships are bonded, loyalties remain, and even gods of war and calamity can find light in their irrefutable darkness.

The Devil’s Own ~ Blue Exorcist

blue exorcist

The forest looked down on her with gentle smiling leaves as her feet sank into the freshly fallen snow at each step. This place was only to be a temporary assignment but it somehow became the only place she cared to be. It was all a misunderstanding anyways. Humans and demons could learn to coexist and understand each other, she was sure of it. Perhaps one day that world without separation and hate would become reality…

It had been 15 years since Father Shiro Fujimoto had taken in twin boys to raise as his own. The monastery they grew up in was the only home they ever knew, but the boys could not have possibly been any different from each other. Yukio Okumura was always smart, calculated and studious; even though he was the younger sibling he always sought to be able to protect his older brother and those that he cared for. The elder brother, Rin, on the other hand was always a wild card; somewhat of a rebel and slacker yet always attempting to do things with the best of intentions – even if putting his own life at risk. The brothers always seemed to be a little bit different in some aspects, but it remained a deeply hidden secret until one fatal night when their lives would change forever.

blue exorcist groupWhen demons begin to overtake Assiah, the human world, Father Fujimoto has no choice but to finally reveal to Rin that he is the true Son of Satan and give him Kurikara, the demon sword that had sealed away his powers up until this point. When the gate to the demon realm Gehenna opens and Fujimoto is possessed by none other than Satan himself, he sacrifices himself in front of Rin’s eyes in order to save him. From that point on Rin vows to destroy Satan and eventually ends up enrolling in the elite True Cross Academy high school.

Admitted by the preceptor himself, True Cross Academy has a hidden curriculum that only certain dedicated students even have knowledge of called the Cram School: a school for exorcists. It is there that exorcists in training learn not only to combat demons and protect the world from a danger most people do not even see, but they also hone the exact methods in which they will repel the evil and learn to work as a team. Some exorcists become Tamers with summoned pets to do their will while other may choose to become an Aria and defeat demons through reading scripture. There are other categories as well that aspiring exorcists may enlist themselves as, but none so highly ranked as the Paladin. Rin soon finds himself among a small yet colorful cast of students and faculty that will take them up the ranks of becoming exorcists and closer to their goal of abolishing Satan. Of course, nothing ever goes quite so smoothly planned and as Rin attempts to keep his demonic looks and powers concealed, plenty of trials and trouble test the students up until their final showdown with the demon king himself.

Blue Exorcist is an action/supernatural manga and anime following the story of the brothers – in particular, Rin. Throughout the 26 blue exorcist rin and shiemiepisodes of the first season, the main story remains ever in tact while still including many side stories and character backgrounds that truly draw the audience in. From the goal oriented justice seeking Suguro, to the abandoned demon familiar Kuro who is quickly won over by Rin, to the gentle and quiet Shiemi who ends up becoming one of the strongest characters overall – the cast truly transforms into a solid unit of friends and allies by going through so many difficult trials together. With humor, emotion, and plenty of action throughout each episode it is one that will easily keep attention throughout the series.

Humans and demons have been at war for as long as texts have been written and stories have been told. Perhaps it only takes one person to change that fate for the future.

There are always dreams to be realized.

Lives to be lived.

 

“If I’m fighting you with parlor tricks, then you’ll have no excuse for losing, will you?”

If you float around the internet long enough you may come across something by the name of Touhou – but what is it really? It seems most people either know what it is, or they don’t. Is it an anime? A video game? Manga? Art? Fanfiction? Music!? Most know of it but not as many know where it originates, or how far spread its fandom truly reaches. I, myself, was one of those left completely oblivious to its immense awesome-ness. So now, let me lead you into a world known as The Touhou Project…

For those who may be unsure if they know what I’m even talking about yet, perhaps you have seen this video (and if not, watch it anyways – it is amazing and you’ll be caught up to speed with the rest of us):

So what exactly is it then? The Touhou Project, or Project Shrine Maiden, comes in various forms; but at its very core lies an anime style shooter game. Created by one-man developer Team Shanghai Alice, its only member (known as Zun) is responsible for nearly all of the music, graphics, and programming. This type of game is affectionately known as a bullet hell shooter, and is something akin to be launched into laser gun fight in the middle of a fireworks show finale. It is chaos. It is panic. It is confusion. It is addicting. It is epic. There are also a few games of the fighting genre as well. As of now there are currently 13 games in the series, the most recent being Ten Desires released in August, 2011.

Having learned this small bit of knowledge I near instantly decided I had to try this game out for myself. Just to precess this, I will be the first to admit I am a console gamer as keyboards, mice, and gaming just never really zen-ed with me. However, being the determined soul that I am I didn’t let that stop me. So of the 13 games I began to play the 12.8th (yes, point eight.  There are actually a few in between titles in conjunction to the 13 – just let it happen…) game of the series titled Yōsei Daisensō ~ Tōhō Sangetsusei (Great Fairy Wars ~ Eastern Three Fairies) and follows the story of Cirno, an ice fairy with the ability to manipulate cold and freeze bullets (although, apparently, she is not very bright and is often seen as the clown of the group).

The basic concept of the game is you have control of Cirno (or whichever main character, depending on game) and you must simultaneously shoot down your foes whilst dodging their attacks and gaining powerup cards.  Each character in the series usually has two special card abilities – one that can be used close to death and another to use at will, though only so often and indicated by a charged percentage meter. For example, Cirno can become briefly invincible and allow you to focus purely on damage; she can also turn any bullets connecting around her to ice which can then be shattered, effectively clearing the screen for a short time. The power-up cards you collect enhance your own projectiles thereby destroying your enemies faster. After a predetermined onslaught of foes you will come across a boss for the level. Bosses not only have far more ability and range in firing their bullets but also can use cards of their own to enhance their abilities and even offer additional protection. Each game has a few different paths you can choose from as well as different difficulties (easy, normal, hard, lunatic).  Additionally, if you can survive through a certain level of difficulty without using any continues an extra path will be accessible with a longer stage, more enemies, more bullets, and harder bosses.

Yay for screenshots =)

...and this is an easy boss

It all begins around a place known as Hakurei Shrine which acts as a portal between two very different and dangerous worlds. On one side of the portal lies a region known as Gensokyo (literally meaning ‘illusion village’) and on the other side lies the human world which we are all familiar with. It has been said that many things that disappear from the human realm, such as extinct animals or ancient spiritual practices, tend to show up in the realm of Gensokyo. Long ago strange phenomenon began occurring where yokai (spirits or monsters) began preying on lost wanderers into the realm. In order to remedy this problem, exorcists were sent in to battle and eliminate the yokai. Whilst human civilization began to grow using vast technology and advancement on the outside, within the now sealed Gensokyo realm, magic and spiritual qualities prevailed with humans and yokai coexisting – although, not always amicably. However, now the seal at Hakurei Shrine has weakened and more and more people are finding themselves wandering deep within the dangerous Gensokyo realm. This is the story of Touhou and now it is a fight for survival.

Touhou is now so much more than a game as it has grown into a vast fandom base. Stories, manga, fanfiction, beastiary guides, dojinshi, artwork, music, novels, and even full conventions have been born of the franchise; and many characters from the series, even the minutist of bosses, have accrued mass fan appeal and adoration.

Needless to say, the art and story was enough to capture my attention from the start; but now that I’ve experienced the games it has moved to an entirely different level. The Touhou Project is something that embodies many positively awesome aspects, including a couple of my favorites: anime and video games! The games certainly are not easy, and you will die…a lot, but they are an addicting challenge that you will find yourself constantly returning to in hopes of getting just one more level further or defeating that particularly insane boss.

So what if it’s not your average anime, manga, or video game? Who says average is the only thing worth doing any ways?!?

“When you lose your way, you can blame the fairies.”

7 days…!!

Seven wonders of the world…Seven deadly sins…Seven days to survive at the bottom of a well…there are many things involving the number seven ~

But more importantly, there are only seven days until Animazement 2011!

Yes, the Con that was always such a distant event in the future is right around the corner ~ and here I am still not completely ready (like any good procrastinator)!  Luckily it’s nothing a good productive weekend can’t fix! Barring of course the idea that the world is scheduled to end within the next 24 hours by brimstone and fire *blink* I think everything will go smoothly 🙂

For those of you who do not know or perhaps have never heard of an anime convention allow me to enlighten you:

Picture, if you will, a large convention hall or building (exciting and picturesque, I know)  but it’s not the building or location that matters, what is so amazing is what can be found inside. There are conventions held all over the world over a myriad of topics and hobbies; this particular type of convention focuses on anime, video games, manga, design, production, cosplay and costume design, music, and other forms of popular Japanese visual culture.

The entire weekend is filled to the brim with events, panels, gaming, and dances.  Writers, designers, artists, and voice actors from popular video games and shows often make appearances for interviews, autographs, and other events.  Concerts by popular J-rock/pop/traditional artists will also take place, often making their live US Debut with photos and autographs to be held after the show (See picture: Sound Bee HD @ Nekocon 2010). The video game room and tournament room are where you will find not only every gaming console possible, but some of the best gamers just waiting for a worthy opponent. The tournament room can get pretty intense; you may think you are all that but you better bring it if you want to stand a chance.  Many other events and panels ranging from costume design and creation to crash courses in game design can also be found.  There’s even an area for you table top gamers to see who’s best of the best. And just when you think you’re feet can’t take much more, there are dances (raves) both Friday and Saturday night (they call them “raves” but really its simply fun outfits, blaring techno/dub-step, and plenty of glow sticks and black-lights)

As if the numerous events and guests weren’t enough, there are ways of spending money that exceed your wildest dreams.  Artist’s Alley and the Dealer’s Room are always packed with people.  The artist’s alley is where people will sell and commission their own artwork.  The dealer’s room is where you will find many of your souvenirs.  Intriguing and unique shops that travel all over the country from Con to Con can be found as well as other merchants who have items you simply cannot find anywhere else.

Feel like you’re the best of the best and deserve recognition? There are a plethora contests that go on throughout the weekend!  As alluded to earlier, there are video game tournaments as well as AMV (anime music video) and karaoke competitions.  And what would a convention be without a costume craftsmanship and masquerade contest? The Masquerade is basically a talent show made up of musical numbers, re-enactments, skits, martial arts, and dances to name a few.

One of the most prominent features of a Con is probably the cosplays (or costumes).  It is one of the few times during the year you can walk into a McDonald’s with pink hair, fairy wings, fuzzy leg warmers and a tail and you’d see about 15 people dressed in similar fashion without even batting an eye.  Characters from video games, anime, cartoons, books, and even from the depths of people’s imaginations come to life and wander the convention halls.  If you’re thinking that it’s just a bunch of annoying kids running around in costume, you’re wrong.  People from young to old participate and enjoy the festivities.  The cosplay outfits themselves are not mere Halloween costume rejects, they are usually hand crafted and high quality pieces of craftsmanship; something to be proud of and makes flaunting it that much more exciting!

Well, this post got considerably longer than I’d originally anticipated.  xD Honestly I could babble on about conventions for hours.  At my first Con I remember looking around and thinking, ‘wow! I completely fit in with this crowd ~ this is awesome!’.  After all, where else could you have a debate about the most epic Pokemon team with a group of strangers and not have a single person give you a “you’re one of those people” kind of looks?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love how unique I am from my interests to my style; but every so often it’s nice to find a group of people who know exactly where you’re coming from ~ no explanation needed. ^_^

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those that matter don’t mind” ~Dr. Seuss

For those wanting more information you can check out here: http://animazement.org/

Animazement 2011 – Raleigh, NC – May 27-30 – Weekend passes can still be purchased at the door for $55.00