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    by Published on 04-10-2013 08:17 PM
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    "My brain is still getting accustomed to the information it is processing and hasn't gotten used to ...
    by Published on 01-24-2013 01:41 PM
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    KINGDOM- This anime is based off of Yasuhisa Hara's Japanese manga series taking place in the Warring States Period of ancient China (475-221 BCE). It follows the story of Xin and Hyou, two war-orphans in the kingdom of Qin.

    Episodes: 38
    Status: Currently being shown
    Producers: Studio Pierrot, FUNimation EntertainmentL, NHK
    Genres: Action, Historical, Military

    Okay- we all know that we can be picky when it comes to animation in any series. If it is badly done then we tend to lose interest, right? Well you would be right for 99.9% of the time...that is until you see this story. So sue me...that 0.01% makes a whole lot of difference in the wider context of anime series- because it is that awesome. And of course if you asked me, I would stubbornly agree that I am completely objective over the whole issue.

    Don't let the first episode fool you though or anything. The first 1-4 episodes, the animation isn't fantastic as they shockingly decide to combine 2d and 3d animation together. Or at least it appears that way to my inexperienced eyes. Even the comments I viewed for episode one made me apprehensive as to what I will expect. But surprisingly in-between the "OMG! The animation just turns me off" comments, there were some very positive comments as well. So my curiosity became a raging inferno... needing a new series to watch and actually see if it is as bad as some of the comments claimed it to be.

    What I found surprised me. Actually no... not just surprised me. It dumbfounded me.

    It is a hidden gem among the greatest of diamonds. It doesn't help that the one main actor had a familiar voice, and after discussing it with a friend, I made a general assumption. 'You know... I think this character's voice sounds like Ichigo from Bleach!' I exclaimed excitedly. I was slightly red in the face- if only he could see me from Denmark as we chatted on Skype- and my enthusiasm was bubbling over the top after having seen the first 7 episodes at that stage. A virtual shake of his head and a standard reply followed: 'I doubt it.' However not deterred in the slightest by his reply, I had to know...so I looked at Wikipedia and lo and behold. It was!

    Masakazu Morita is best known for his roles as Ichigo Kurosaki in Bleach, Marco (One Piece), and Auel Neider (Mobile Suit Gundam Seed). In this story, he plays Xin, the protagonist of the story that has a great dream: To become the 'World's Greatest General!'

    However, that dream is shared by his closest friend Piao (漂 Hyō?), who like Xin is a slave and an orphan. They both serve in a household and share this incredible dream to become the world's greatest generals. It is very touching as you follow their progress as they train, fighting each other and later get discovered by a loyal supporter of the king, Changwenjun.

    But here is where it gets slightly emotional as the pair is separated and then without trying to spoil the surprise and story... I will say this:

    The character development is fantastic. Think back to Ichigo of Bleach if you have seen the anime at all, and how he progressed, learned and gotten stronger as time went by. Same effect applies to Xin. The opening song to the anime series as a whole is catchy and eventually you will find yourself singing along to it. There are twists and turns in the plot that will be completely unexpected. And the action- don't let me get started on that! It is absolutely bloody fantastic! Eventually the whole 2d/3d animation that isn't as great in the beginning, starts to fade away and you realise that it doesn't matter any more. The story more than compensates for EVERYTHING!

    I told you I was objective.

    Now here is the sad part: Since Kingdoms is an ongoing series, I had to wait many times for the new weekly episode to be released and wanted to pull my hair out at some points. Each episode, bar maybe 3 episodes in the entire series so far, had me sitting at the edge of my seat and wanting to see what will happen. I think what captured my attention was the strategy involved in the individual wars and fight scenes. I have never come across an anime series that gripped me like this in such a way where I started comparing other series I have seen and found them lacking.

    With all the touching and emotional scenes, the fighting and strategy that occurs plus not to mention all the back-stabbery and underhanded plots of some characters like Chengjiao (the half brother of the King), you will never say it is 'Boring!'

    I give Kingdoms a resounding 9 out of 10 and I do know this may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you like some action, a good story and great character development, then Kingdoms will take you into a world unlike anything you have encountered.

    As of this time I found a great browser-game to compliment this series that is based on 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms.'

    As taken from Wikipedia:

    Romance of the Three Kingdoms, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, is a historical novel set amidst the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, starting in 169 C.E. and ending with the reunification of the land in 280 C.E.

    The game itself, Tripod: Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a browser-based game set in ancient China. You can choose to join one of three historical factions where you build your own kingdom and develop the city you are in. At first glance it seems like a typical strategy browser-based game as well, but after getting to level 60, the game drastically expands into different areas where you can enter Arena fights among other surprises. It is free to play, but you have the option of buying gold for the game. But as long as you are patient, you can continue to play the game as a free user without feeling like you are restricted in any way which is a nice surprise for a change as having played quite a few browser-games in the past, I found that players with some money always had the best advantages. In Tripod: Romance of the Three Kingdoms you have as much chance as the next player to be the best.

    In addition to developing the city, you must build an army, train and equip various generals, and conquer new territory.

    The anime series Kingdom will be the main course and the game (click here to sign up) will just be the dessert. If you have a curious mind like I do, you will undoubtedly find yourself delving into the history of Ancient China and absolutely rave to a dozen other people about the series. But don't just take my word for it... watch the first 6 episodes of Kingdom and then come back and tell me it is a crappy series.

    (If you do come back and say that, then you have some marbles that need to be assessed and placed under investigation for some cracks on the surface!)
    by Published on 01-11-2013 11:29 PM
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    Red Garden
    Episodes: 22 (including OVA)
    Distributor: FUNimation (Originally the license rights belonged to ADV)
    Content Rating: PG-12 (Very Low nudity, violence and death)
    Original creator: Gonzo

    Disc one:

    01: Farewell Girls 02. Cruel Night 03. The Real Me 04. Where Are We Going? 05. Every Window 06. Small Light

    Disc two:

    07. Another Fate 08. Go Love 09. Awakening 10. Bewilderment 11. Respective Thoughts 12. His Thoughts

    Disc Three:

    13. Holiday 14. Reason To Fight 15. Sorrow & Anger 16. Painful Lie 17. The Truth 18. Slight Hope

    Disc Four:

    19. Feelings That Don't Come Across 20. The Room That's Left Behind 21. The Last Morning 22. The Light OVA - Dead Girls

    If you saw dozens of butterflies hovering above you while you are shopping in the high street, then there is a good chance that you will be in for a gruesome surprise. You might even want to grab your baseball bat (Not that we have one lying around, but you can improvise!) or head to the nearest park and scrounge around for a large piece of tree-wood-thingie... you get my drift!

    'Now why would I need that?' you ask.

    At this point we may just gently place our hand on your arm in a comforting manner and say with very little emotion, 'It is time for you to fight. And fight you must or you will die.'

    However, we may ignore that bewildered look of yours and then just nudge you in the right direction.

    Soon you will see the horror that awaits you.... in the dark night... there... just in front of you...

    Oh! You may want to grab a friend or two to help you out, but under no circumstances can you avoid what will happen.

    - is certainly not a typical anime in the sense of overly cute characters, or amazing fight scenes, however, the fighting that takes place is gruesome in it's own way, so if you don't enjoy violence, then I wouldn't suggest this anime. Saying that though, the first episode opens with a very colourful introduction that keeps in line with where the story takes place- New York. It has that girlie-designer feel to it, so it was definitely different for me at least.

    Once the episode starts, titled "Farewell Girls" we are greeted with a man in one car and a blonde woman in another car gaze at the other while the cars pass by each other. Seems a bit suspect and once the camera zooms out, we also see a sleeping girl in the car with the blonde woman, all wrapped snug in a blanket. Her hair looks disorganized and that is where it even gets weirder as the girl is taken to an apartment by two men and placed in her bed in this unconscious state as it becomes apparent. We see three other girls meet the exact same fate as they are taken to their homes and then a fifth girl that was in one car was suddenly attacked...

    At this point I was going 'Huh!?' and watched in eager anticipation how this story would unfold. But as luck was not on my side, it appears the episodes don't tell you - the viewer- everything in one go. So it leaves you hanging and later you meet the four teenagers properly as you are introduced to them and their lives.

    So what do you think happens to these four girls once five other girls were discovered in the woods near their school? Was it really a case of suicide like the reporters said? And why couldn't they remember what happened that one evening?

    Overall the story has been quite enjoyable so far, and it is definitely different in terms of animation (look and feel) along with the obvious fact that it plays out like a typical drama story as it follows the girls around and what happens in their lives. Refreshingly it also appears that these teenage girls are very human with emotions they can't control, fears that escalate to points where it renders them helpless and situations that might even make you sniffle once or twice. Okay, and even I have to admit... I actually liked the singing. Yes, there is singing... believe it or not. Think Moulin Rouge style.

    If anything, this story will keep you glued to your couch because you will want to find out exactly what they have become...

    So watch it and tell me what you think.

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