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Review: Kagerou Project

KagePro-Wallpaper-kagerou-project-37017335-2000-786Okay let me tell you this much, I have not yet read the novels, so I’m a bit uninformed on certain things about the series, but I’ll give as much as I can.

So! Kagerou Project was made by Jin and his use of the computer music program Vocaloid. He made some fun catchy songs and along the way he joined forces with Shidu, who made music videos for them. Further down Jin had a story plot that interconnected all of his songs, making for one big hit! And it caught on.

It’s the story about people with eye powers, who went through a happening on August 14th, and were given these abilities by the medusa Azami within the Heat Haze. Each character has a different power, based upon a wish they had at the time, whether it was to hide the injuries, to be noticed, or to just understand another person, they all are good and bad. And these powers are all based around eyes, each character’s eyes becoming red when the ability is used. This is their story and how it goes round and round.

Now this is an interesting thing as the entire rise to mainstream is sort of out there. From Vocaloid music videos, to novels, to a manga, to an anime, Kagerou Project is really far from the norm of adaptations. Jin, let me just say, is an amazing song writer, as all the songs are full length with catchy tunes, and have deeper meanings than meets the eye. As someone who has yet to read the novels, as I am unable to read Japanese but I am looking for translations, I don’t really know the quality of those. The manga: Kagerou Days, still going, is quite good so far, showing just enough for you to get a taste. The anime: Mekaku City Actors, produced by SHAFT, recently ended its slotted twelve episodes, and… Could have been better, but also could have been a lot worse. Now if that isn’t something new, well I don’t know what you people want, because I think it’s brilliant.

Okay! Light spoilers under the cut!

Character time!

Our main character is Shintaro Kisaragi, a hikkimori NEET, basically a major recluse who believes he will die without his computer. Not exactly main character makings right? Well there’s a reason for his reclusiveness and it’s a mix of guilt and despair for something he believes he could have stopped or rather something he thinks he caused. Now the entire story plot starts when Shintaro is forced to leave his home for the first time in two years because his keyboard died. Because of this he is thrown into a whole new crazy world of eye powers.

Next is the pretty cyber girl Ene, otherwise known as Takane Enomoto, a highschool student who was given the power of Opening Eyes, essentially making her immortal and a computer program. She found her way to Shintaro’s computer, where he then downloaded her, and prompted to annoy the ever-living fuck out of him. She is always trying to prompt Shintaro to leave the house and become a healthier person, though he may not realize what she’s doing. She loud and humorous, but is also cranky and mean.

Momo Kisaragi, Shintaro’s sister, is an unlucky idol. Always in the background growing up she wished to be seen, and was once she gained the Captivating Eyes. Because of her power she was able to become a famous pop singer, though now she hates it. This is because she can’t seem to live a normal life. Huh, who would have thought being famous would make it hard to go to the store? Anyway, she’s upbeat and near the exact opposite of her brother, who she now sees as an embarrassment.

Tsubomi Kido, known as Kido, is the leader of the group Mekakushi Dan (Blindfold Gang). She is our tsundere character, who grew up in a rich family as a disappointment child, and so she wished to disappear and be able to hide away. She later gained the ability Concealing Eyes, able to make herself disappear and appear at her own will. Kido is actually quite timid, but comes off cold and harsh, though she’s a sweetheart. She also has the best control over her powers.

Shuuya Kano, known as Kano, is a member of the gang. From an abusive home Kano wished to hide away the injuries he was giving, but he also wanted people to believe his lies. He is a trickster character who is meant to appear as a possible bad guy character. He has the Deceiving Eyes, resulting in him being able to make elusions with himself, but only himself.

Kousuke Seto, known as Seto, is another member of the gang.  He basically grew up alone and because of that was unable to communicate very well, though he had a lot to say. His power is Stealing Eyes, almost making it as though he can read people’s minds, though it’s more him just reading information about a person. A good hearted person, Set only really sees the good in people, despite what he may hear. Next to Momo and Kano, he has the worse control over his power.

Mary, or Marry, is a ¼ Medusa. Because of this she is able to make people stop with her Staring Eyes, but only temporarily, and is unable to turn people to stone as the myth goes. She grew up with her mother until tragedy took her mother away, so instead she lived alone, until Seto brought her to the outside world. She is now a member of the MekakuDan, where she finally has friends and is not just dreaming about it.

Hibiya Amamiya is the youngest member, and only just received his powers. His story is sort of the first view we get into the actual events of the Heat Haze. He’s sort of a brat and a creep, always trying to win the love of his crush Hiyori. He grew up in the sticks basically and it shows as in the events of the story it is his first time in the city. His power is Focusing Eyes, basically making him able to see things from far away. What a loser.

Konoha, or Haruka Kokonose is our resident android. Like Ene, he used to be a highschool student, but was given the power of Awakening Eyes, which gives him his dream body. He, however, has no memory of his life before being an Android, so you know mostly squat unless you’ve seen any of the material. He’s gluttonous and a bit slow, but he also is a skilled fighter. Like his human counterpart he is kind and just wants friends.

Ayano Tateyama, who believed that red, was the color of heroes, left a mark on all the characters, whether they knew it or not. Now it’s no surprise that Ayano is a character long since passed away, but not in the sense that you would get. She was a character who wanted to save what little happiness she had and had to ‘died’ in the process.

Now here’s where the spoilers become a little heavy.

Basically to enter the Heat Haze and receive an eye ability you have to die. Often times with another person, though this isn’t always true. You are placed into an endless loop of your death until you emerge from the Haze. So basically all those happy chipper songs and ideas you had about this story? Nope, it’s only despair from here on out. You see because the powers being given are actually snakes, which possess the dead bodies, granting their final wishes, which then begin to gather around the Queen snake.

See, what did I say, misery.

But anyway, on to the next bit since characters went on for a long time (Sorry there was a lot of them and their all really important.)

The art style I personally think was much better in Shidu’s hands, as they really loved the characters. You can see this in the music videos, which are just stunning at times. They also got many of these videos done in less than 3 weeks, which is impressive. The manga is well done as well, each character pretty much standard, though some of the anatomy is… Not mentionable, but that’s normal. Now the anime, which had a whole new art staff, because no one bothered to hire Shidu, the bastards. This was good and bad. SHAFT has a string of very good animation, see Madoka Magica, but it also has that very bad habit of getting things just barely done before it airs, often still fixing things. Basically if you want quality, wait for the dvd/bluray, because then it will all be much cleaner, also see Madoka Magica. It shines in places, like the opening is very clean, whilst some scenes in the actual anime are just funny from how cringe worthy they are.

Okay so warning right now, if you are going to watch Mekaku City Actors, there is an episode… Where the animation just changes to 3DCGI, which… Dear lord I watched it right after the subbed version came on and it scared me at first. Episode nine be prepared for it.

Now onto music. This is really where the whole thing shines most because this is what made Kagerou Project so big. Now for those who don’t know Vocaloid is a Japanese computer program that makes music. You guys know Hatsune Miku, yeah, that’s Vocaloid. Anyway a lot of these songs are just fantastic, from the loud drum solo of Yobanshi Decieve to the soft guitar of Ayano’s Theory of Happiness, to the haunting lyrics of Toumei Answer, to the upbeat sound of Yuukei Yesterday, and to the final notes of Summertime Record. I love all of these songs. Now be warned that the originals are sung by a computer automated voice, and not everybody digs that, it took me a long time. Not all of them have music videos made by Shidu, some were fan animated, which just shows the pulling power. In the anime they took advantage of this and a lot of the best parts of the episodes is where the audience got an amazing cover of a song we had come to love and it always fit just right and felt like a music video in ways. I think, personally, that’s where the anime shined best itself, when it showed the roots of this entire story. Because without that music it wouldn’t even be here.  And I guess the most important thing is that Jin, who made a lot of this himself, sang that final song for that final episode.

This is a story about eyes and the people who are affected by it, but for me, I see as a story about growing up. Summertime Record, the final song, is about moving forward but promising to meet each other again. I think that’s why I personally love Kagerou Project, because it’s that final story before things become normal, but it’s only boring if you let it be. Tell the story over and over so people don’t forget, so you yourself don’t forget. “The lonely kids will take a stand.”

I say look into this, I know it isn’t for everyone, but try it out. People do English covers of the song every day and I think a lot of people could connect with the characters, just as I do with characters like Shintaro. But for now I’ll just give a rating based on my enjoyment of each individual piece. The novels will get a proper rating once I’ve read them.

Kagerou Project (Music/Videos): 10/10
Novels: ???/10
Manga: 7.5/10
Anime: 7/10

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VIZ Media Releasing a New Millennium Snow Volume

On June 3rd, VIZ Media will release a new volume from Bisco Hatori’s hit manga series – Millennium Snow – as well as the release on the same day of a new 2-in-1 omnibus print edition.

Volume 3 of the romance about a handsome young vampire and an ailing teenage girl will be published under the Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The new release marks the return of the critically acclaimed series after it had been put on hiatus by the creator and has never before been released in English.

A digital version of Millennium Snow, Vol. 3 also will debut on June 3rd for $6.99 (USD/CAN) on VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA App. Volumes 1-2 are available now.

Fans also can catch the two earlier volumes of Millennium Snow with a new 2-in-1 omnibus print version that also releases on June 3rd and bundles Vols. 1-2 into a handy single edition. The 2-in-1 omnibus edition is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will carry an MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

In Bisco Hatori’s acclaimed series, seventeen-year-old Chiyuki Matsuoka was born with heart problems, and her doctors say she won’t live to see the next snow. Toya is an 18-year-old vampire who hates blood and refuses to make the traditional partnership with a human, whose life-giving blood would keep them both alive for a thousand years.

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It’s a nice long weekend! Hope everyone enjoys it.

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CBLDF – Oishinbo Manga Suspended Amidst Nuclear Furor – Sigh.

AV Club – A brief history of the alternate histories of the X-Men – This is awesome.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Amazing X-Men #7

CBR – Batman Eternal #7

Talking Comics – Brain Boy: The Men From GESTALT #1

CBR – Daredevil #3

Comic Vine – Devilers #1

Talking Comics – The Last Broadcast #1

Talking Comics – Magneto #4

Talking Comics – MPH #1

 

Movie Reviews Around the Tubes

CBR – X-Men: Days of Future Past

iO9 – X-Men: Days of Future Past

iO9 – Edge of Tomorrow

Otakon Announces its First Guests for Otakon 2014

yusuke_kozakiOtakon has announced some of its first guests for their 2014 convention. Yusuke Kozaki began accumulating accolades at the age of 19, winning the Young Magazine young talent award, and the Chiba Tetsuya Award soon after. His first short story, Mikakunin Higoshojo Kaoru, was published by Young Magazine, and in 2002 his long-form story Kyoko Karasuma appeared in B-Street.

Kozaki is an in demand character designer providing them for anime, video games and more.

hiro_yuraJoining Kozaki is the second announced guest, Hiroaki Yura. This will be Yura’s third appearance at Otakon.

Hiroaki Yura is a video producer and director for many video games and anime. He began his career as a classical solo violinist and later founded the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, a contemporary anime/videogame performance ensemble.

Yura is also founder to Creative Intelligence Arts, a company that blends international diversity with hard work and creativity.

The violin virtuoso is also credited with directing orchestral pieces for Diablo III, Soulcalibur IV, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Valkyrie Chronicles amongst many more titles.

Otakon 2014 will be held August 8-10 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD.

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It’s new comic day tomorrow? Do you know what you’re planning on getting? If you’re undecided, you can check out our picks later this morning!

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Kotaku – Was PAX East’s Diversity Lounge A Success? I Asked People Who Went – It’d be great to see more of these at conventions.

GamePolitics – AbleGamers Raises Over $33K at PAX East 2014 – Great organization. Great to see this!

Kotaku – This Avengers Bruce Banner Figure Isn’t Always Angry – Really nice looking figure.

The Mary Sue – Young Women Are The Fastest Growing Demographic According To New Comics Retailer Survey – Good to hear retailers are backing up our stats!

Kotaku – Miyazaki Films Would Be Just As Pretty With Pixel Art – Very cool.

Bleeding Cool – BBC Sherlock Manga Getting An Official English Translation Shortly – Cool!

The Mary Sue – Several Women Arrested For Writing Fanfic In China – Huh.

CBR – ‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot Will Aim For Tone of Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ – Hrm, could be interesting.

The Beat – Saga, Foglio Nominated for Hugo Awards – Congrats!

Around the Tubes Reviews

Liverpool Sound and Vision – Aquaman, The Trench. Volume One

CBR – Superior Spider-Man #31

CBR – Thor: God of Thunder #21

Talking Comics – Wonder Woman #30

Leap into the world of manga with the new Weekly Shonen Jump “Jump Pack”

VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine returns to its roots in print as it gives North American fans a special treat with the release of the Weekly Shonen Jump Jump Pack 2014, Issue 2 available now. The jam-packed print edition contains more than 100 pages of the world’s most popular featured series and is an ideal way to check out what the digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine offers.

The Weekly Shonen Jump Jump Pack is available in the U.S. and Canada exclusively through retailers serviced by Diamond Comic Distributors and also from leading online anime/manga retailer Right Stuf. The Weekly Shonen Jump Jump Pack 2014, Issue 2 is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will carry an MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN.

The latest Jump Pack issue features the current hit series, All You Need is Kill, by Takeshi Obata, as well as chapters from continuing fan favorites such as Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal and much more. The issue also includes a promotional code for a 3-month weekly digital subscription to the magazine along with a limited edition Blue-Eyes White Dragon Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card with exclusive variant art from Kazuki Takahashi.

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Viz Media’s Edge of Tomorrow Movie Tie-In

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint is releasing a movie tie-in novel for the upcoming sci-fi action film, Edge of Tomorrow. The novel will be released April 29th. The new Edge of Tomorrow paperback release will carry an MSRP of $7.99 U.S. / $9.99 CAN. The book features a cover with the official movie poster featuring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in their title roles from the film. The Edge of Tomorrow novel was written by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and was previously published as All You Need is Kill.

The Haikasoru imprint has also announced the May 6th release of the All You Need is Kill official graphic novel adaptation. Written by Haikasoru editor and noted sci-fi author, Nick Mamatas, and featuring full-color artwork by popular comic book artist Lee Ferguson, the new graphic novel offers a single-volume retelling of the original All You Need is Kill novel that inspired the Edge of Tomorrow movie. The graphic novel carries an MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $17.99 CAN, and features an oversized North American graphic novel trim size of 6 5/8″ x 10 ¼”. An eBook edition will also be available worldwide for $8.99 (U.S. / CAN) for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book Store, and the Kobo eBooks Store. North American fans can also access the graphic novel digitally on the VIZ Manga App as well as through VIZManga.com.

The Edge of Tomorrow feature film is slated for U.S. release from Warner Bros. Pictures on June 6th, and will be presented in 3D and 2D in select theaters, and 3D IMAX. The movie is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton.

The story is set in the future when aliens called Mimics invade. Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. But he dies on the battlefield after only a few minutes, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally – the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death?

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VIZ Media Details New Digital Manga Updates for April

image001VIZ Media welcomes the beginning of Spring with a fresh round of digital manga. Shojo fans will not want to miss the launch of creator Bisco Hatori’s acclaimed wistful romance, Millennium Snow, available now.

Notable updates to a variety of other popular ongoing series also include the latest volumes – available now – for: Bleach (Vol. 60), Dragon Ball Full Color (Vol. 2), Deadman Wonderland (Vol. 2), Sweet Rein (Vol. 2), Naruto (Vol. 65), Toriko (Vol. 21); Happy Marriage (Vol. 5) is also available (only on VIZManga.com and select partner platforms). All of these editions launch digitally the same day as print. April 15th will also see the debut of the latest digital-exclusive edition of the hard-hitting superhero action series, One-Punch Man (Vol. 2).

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These titles complement additions to more than 16 other popular manga series and will also feature special multi-volume updates for Boys Over Flowers (8 new vols.), Firefighter! (2 new vols.), Knights of the Zodiac (7 new vols.), Phoenix (3 new vols.), and Whistle! (5 new vols.). Two additional weekly updates will follow on April 22nd and 29th.

MILLENNIUM SNOW, Vol. 1

Rated ‘T’ for Teens·
MSRP: $6.99 (U.S. / CAN) ·Available Now!

MILLENNIUM SNOW is a celebrated shojo manga series created by Bisco Hatori. Seventeen-year-old Chiyuki Matsuoka was born with heart problems, and her doctors say she won’t live to see the next snow. Toya is an 18-year-old vampire who hates blood and refuses to make the traditional partnership with a human, whose life-giving blood would keep them both alive for a thousand years. Chiyuki makes the most of the time she has left, even though things aren’t that exciting–until she comes across the reluctant vampire late one chilly night. Can Chiyuki teach Toya to feel passion for life, even as her own is ending?

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A New Hello Kitty Graphic Novel from VIZ Media

VIZ Media takes readers on a whimsical new outing from its Perfect Square imprint with the world’s favorite pop culture icon and her adorable friends in the debut of Hello Kitty: Surprise! on April 1st.

The latest full-color release in the ongoing Hello Kitty Perfect Square collection features seven new stories and three shorts centered around the theme of unexpected discoveries. Hello Kitty: Surprise! reunites the creative team of Jacob Chabot, Jorge Monlongo, and Ian McGinty, along with special guest artist Anastassia NeislotovaHello Kitty: Surprise! is rated ‘A’ for All Ages and carries a print MSRP of $7.99 U.S. / $9.99 CAN. A digital version is also available for $4.99 U.S. / CAN from the Perfect Square App.

In Hello Kitty: Surprise!, a day at the beach is more than just fun in the sun. A mysterious egg holds a tiny secret. Mama and Papa have a few secrets of their own. And a quiet afternoon with a good book is more exciting than Hello Kitty ever could have imagined! Plus, prepare to be amazed by Anastassia Neislotova’s tales of wonder!

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VIZ Media Announces First-Ever Bleach Design Contest With We-Love-Fine

VIZ Media has announced a special first-ever Bleach design contest with WeLoveFine. Artwork submissions will be accepted through midnight on Tuesday April 8th, 2014.

Artistic fans across the U.S. are invited to tap their Bankai and create original and innovative designs that will have a chance to become officially licensed Bleach t-shirts / merchandise. In addition to cash and other valuable premiums, one lucky winner will be awarded a Grand Prize package that includes airfare to Los Angeles, CA and a full show pass to attend Anime Expo 2014, July 3rd-6th, where they will meet the VIZ Media and WeLoveFine teams, and enjoy a fun weekend jam-packed with all things anime/manga.

The contest’s judging panel includes Bleach manga creator Tite Kubo and his series editor, Shueisha’s Yujiro Hattori, and representatives WeLoveFine, hip apparel retailer Hot Topic, and anime/manga/media site, Crunchyroll.com.

Full contest rules and a downloadable submission kit are available online.

All designs MUST incorporate characters and themes from the Bleach anime and/or manga series. Art pieces should be scanned and submitted to WeLoveFine. Submittals must be 100% original and exact copies or tracing of Bleach manga or anime will not be accepted.

One (1) Grand Prize winner will receive an all expense paid, 3-day 2-night trip to attend Anime Expo 2014, the nation’s biggest annual anime convention to be held in Los Angeles, CA, July 3rd-6th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Prize package includes an Anime Expo membership badge, 1 round trip airfare ticket (limited to U.S. domestic flights only) and lodging near the convention center.

Other valuable prizes will also be awarded. Three (3) runner-up Guest Judge’s pick winners will each win a $300.00 Cash Prize. One (1) Hot Topic Pickwinner will receive a $300.00 Cash Prize and have their design carried exclusively by Hot Topic; One (1) Crunchyroll.com Pickwinner will receive a $300.00 Cash Prize and have their design carried exclusively by Crunchyroll.com; and One (1) WeLoveFine Pick winner will also receive a $150.00 gift certificate from WeLoveFine.com.

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BLEACH is a tremendously successful multimedia property internationally. The manga has been licensed to more than a dozen countries and has sold over 50 million copies in Japan alone. In North America, the manga has been a sales hit and the popular animated series (both rated ‘T’ for Teens) is viewed weekly by millions in the United States and Canada. This success has further spawned an array of related video games, apparel, action figures, trading cards and other merchandise.

 

For more information on BLEACH please visit www.viz.com/Bleach.

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