Anime Review- Legend of the Legendary Heroes

This incredibly enjoyable series begins with the adventurers oh an unlikely duo, Ferris Eris and Ryner Lute. They are sent to collect Hero Artifacts by Sion, the King of Roland. The leaders of a neighboring country called Estabul are also on the hunt for artifacts. Ryner is cursed with “magic eyes” demonic powers that come forth in the form of red pentagrams through his eyes. Through their early missions they are confronted by magical knights from the neighboring territory ..and Milk Calloud, part of the taboo breaker squad who works for King Sion, but doesn’t know about the mission. Milk is the captain of her squad, she’s also got a big time crush on Ryner and thinks that ferris must be enticing him to break the rules. Milk is giddy and girlie. She is very capable, but has childish ways of getting herself out of trouble (usually yelling that she has to use the bathroom). From the beginning Ferris is fierce, great with a sword, constantly teasing Ryner and obsessed with food.

Particularly tea and dango


Ferris is a really fun and interesting character. She’s not above violence, but she disdains killing, she’s a loyal warrior. Although she constantly picks at Ryner -calling him a pervert who corrupts virgins and their mothers with a wolfish grin although this is completely untrue- she teases him for his laziness and incompetence, but she is a true friend.

Ryner is incredibly lazy, in the beginning episodes we see him lounging his way through military school, even when tasked with the important mission retrieving artifacts he is unmotivated and unimpressed. He constantly takes naps and complains about any work to be done. He laments at the end of each episode about how everything sucks. It’s whiny and annoying. He’s “cursed” but as someone who consumes a lot of fantasy genre media, it’s heard demi-god power defined as a curse before. I’m not buying. However, as we get deeper into his history, learning that part of his memories are missing, that he was raised in an orphanage that his childhood friends were killed right in front of him (which was the first time the Alpha Stigma was truly unleashed). He killed many people and sees himself as a monster. Most Alpha Stigmas never reach their full potential because they go crazy young. This all reaches a head in episode 10, when he and Ferris meet up with two pink haired travellers who have already claimed 4 Hero Artifacts that are working for Sion’s enemy Gastark. They fight, Ferris is thrown by the smaller female wielding an ice scythe leaving Ryner to abandon his fight to catch her, she remarks, “Is my beauty so distracting to you?” and he says, “What the hell is your problem?” The male of the antagonist duo calls forth Ryner’s Alpha Stigma, the demon voice attempts to convince him that he should burn everything, that destruction would be more enjoyable than trying to fit in and play hero with humans who don’t accept him. He nearly loses himself and attacks Ferris. Ferris hurls insults at him and then tells him that there’s no way he could be a monster, she doesn’t believe he’s really trying to kill her. She overcomes his magic and he collapses in a heap in front of her. He thinks that now that she’s seen him for what he is that she’ll leave. He tells her he’s too dangerous. Ferris plainly says that there will be no telling her where to go and that besides that they had a date for tea. He starts to cry and she doesn’t coddle him, but makes it clear she won’t leave him. I’m a total sucker for scenes like that and to be honest I have no idea what to do with someone over the age of 12 who is crying, hugging and making sarcastic comments is likely. So I found Ferris’s actions endearing. But by now the audience understands that Ryner isn’t a lazy goofball, he’s clinically depressed and nothing seems worthwhile.

For the most part, nothing much changes in their relationship, although they both internally reflect back on that day. One act of acceptance does not cure Ryner of his depression. It’s a handful of episodes more before we get more backstory on Ferris who is nobility and well trained to be a warrior from a young age, her parents considered her a failure and decided she was only useful as a vessel to carry on her family’s bloodline so her father attacks her, her father is then killed by her very powerful and protective brother. The showing is brief and isn’t very graphic. It provides insight as to why she is so protective of her younger sister and why she sees Ryner as a pervert. It’s likely she sees all men as perverts. Her snarky attitude is cover for her sadness the way that Ryner’s laziness is cover for his.


Throughout the series they encounter new enemies, either trying to beat them to the Hero Artifacts or just enemies set on vanquishing Alpha Stigma monsters. Ryner makes it his goal to save any Alpha Stigma kids before they kill and become corrupted. The story also follows Milk, and another love interest of Ryner’s, Kiefer, who belongs to Gastark’s kingdom. King Sion is a complex character himself, he abhors violence, believing that all life matters and people all have a place in this world but with those in his kingdom afraid of those bearing the Alpha Stigma he is forced to take precaution against Ryner. He’s also collecting artifacts that carry god-like powers which seems akin to political tactics like “peacekeeping through superior firepower”. He’s also harboring some big secrets. Towards the end Ryner meets others “cursed” like him and he sees that they are not all monstrous killing machines.. secret origins get revealed.. There’s a lot going on here.


An amazing story, great animation, masterfully executed, humorous, full of action and high fantasy. It’s lush and gorgeous. It’s funny and sweet and exciting. 

Based on light novels by Takaya Kagami originally illustrated by Saori Toyota.

Manga Review- No Longer Human Vol. 1

by Usakaru Furuya based on the novel by Osamu Dazai.

The story is told from the perspective of Yozo Oba, or rather from that of the author, who while trying to find inspiration for his next manga stumbles upon Yozo’s diary online. There’s a picture of a very charismatic 17 year old Yozo ..and then a disheveled and haggard 25 year old photo of the same man. The author wonders what could have happened, so he dives in.

Be warned: This is a story for the Palahniuk crowd. Hell, for the Bukowski crowd. The art is beautiful, but it’s dark and haunting and perfectly fitting. There’s uncensored sex and booze and overwhelming sadness.


Yozo is the victim of aggressive “tiger-parenting”/mental abuse by his father and as a result he find himself unable to relate to his high school classmates. He puts on a show for them, he plays up class clown antics to please people and he memorizes what ordinary responses are when peers are sad or upset.. but he doesn’t relate. Yozo sees himself as a marrionette -this comes through masterfully in the art, sometimes with just hints of strings being pulled, sometimes Yozo takes on a “broken doll” look, classmates also appear as ‘faceless’, hollow and/or eyeless. He keeps up this facade until he meets Horiki. In Horiki he recognizes the clowning and posturing. Yozo finally feels like he can be himself. This doesn’t make Horiki a good influence, of course. Horiki is self destructive and really only takes pleasure in drinking and getting prostitutes. Yozo’s father has been paying for his apartment and mailing him an allowance and Horiki takes advantage of having a rich friend. Through Horiki and his escort, Yozo finds a finge political collective to involve himself with.

His family ends up cutting him off and he grows to depend on the collective. For companionship as before, but also for basic needs like FOOD. Misaki will do anything for him, even more so when their group turns to terrorism and Yozo is granted a high rank. He recognizes it’s gone too far, and when he abandons, the group has it out for him. So he goes to a “hostess club” for comfort and meets Ageha. She’s sad and lonely herself and falls for him. He takes a handout from her, but then can’t bear to face her as he finds himself homeless and hopeless. “It’s so easy falling.” Yozo calls Horiki and Yozo laments “Love lasts as long as the money does. People misinterpret that saying. It doesn’t mean women ditch you when you’re broke. When a guy has no money he gets depressed, he loses it. Even his laugh is weak. He starts to feel sorry for himself. And in a funk, he starts to push women away from himself.”  (as someone who has spent most of my life being working poor.. yes… the struggle of feeling like you have no friends because you can’t afford to buy a coffee in a cafe or 2 beers in a tavern with them, or that your house isn’t warm enough to host people -it’s painful)

Yozo and Horiki go act like drunk assholes in the club where Ageha works. But she doesn’t turn her back on Yozo. But when they go to the beach to watch the waves… they get an idea… double suicide. And by this point I want to pull out my hair. And I’m ready to cry off all my mascara because the most wonderful thing that either of them can think of is that someone loved them enough to die with them. They walk off into the ocean together… 

Somehow it still manages to get worse.

There’s also this other aspect, where the author is presenting it as a rewritten diary and it made me think of the fact that as writers and readers we sometimes become voyeuristic. And it’s told that way, like we know too much. As if we are intruding on someone’s inner thoughts of self-contempt. And we should look away, accept that this isn’t our business. But it’s just so brutally honest that there’s no looking away.

I don’t like it for what it did to my emotions. But there is no denying how masterfully executed it is. Rating it makes my head hurt. Read at your own risk. It’s 3 volumes long, but I’m not sure if my heart can take it.

Manga Review- Trigun Maximum Vol. 1: Hero Returns

As I have mentioned, I was covering Anime Boston last weekend and while I was there I picked up some goodies. 

Including this manga right here! I loved the Trigun anime series, which wasn’t nearly as popular in Japan as it was on Cartoon Network. We have a flashy gunslinging hero with a 60 billion double dollars bounty on his head who goes on adventures on desert planet Gunsmoke with a motorcycle riding priest. I was pretty much raised on Westerns and Space Westerns were kind of a natural progression for my overactive imagination. He’s a Humanoid Typhoon!


The series was verbatim to the original manga. Trigun Maximum is a continuation from where the series stopped (the crater being put on the moon), it picks up 2 years late, with Vash living under and fake name and Meryl and Milly have returned to their jobs in a more mundane capacity. The art is a little messy but I might only be saying that because full color comic books have spoiled me immensely. But I do love Vash the Stampede (not as much as I loved that showy dude with a kooky name from my other favorite Space western- Gene Starwind), Vash- despite being a gunman and a NATURAL DISASTER- doesn’t want to kill anyone, so he takes many blows himself, this leaves him scarred up and somewhat bionic.In Vol. 1 he faces a gang that’s using his name for purposes of extortion and a town driven to the brink by constant threats of murder. Vash finds non-violent solutions for both of these scenarios, but the priest, Wolfwood, bears bad news. Knives is back. Knives Millions is Vash’s brother who was willing to wipe out a whole planet because he saw humans as inferior.  

In Vol. 1 we also see that the priest, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, doesn’t take the “thou shalt not kill” thing as seriously as Vash. They butt heads immediately about how much force is excessive.

“You think a guy who can’t kill a man.. can save a man?”


Vash’s sensei who outfits him with the weapons he needs to fight knives agrees with Vash’s actions, but his sensei’s new protege, Brad, sees it as a waste of time.

There are interesting debates about morality. But through this volume he chooses the Justice League code of ethics.

Meryl and Milly, two women who work for an insurance company tasked with minimizing the damage caused by the Humanoid Typhoon briefly appear and save Vash’s butt. They’re fun characters. Meryl is smitten with Vash but doesn’t blindly follow him. She has to “minimize damage” as part of her occupation but she, along with Milly, also are Vash’s protectors. 



I want more! I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to seek out more source material from a series with characters I enjoyed so much! worthwhile purchase, indeed. 4.5/5

Anime Review #1- Rosario + Vampire

I’ve actually been meaning to write about this one for a while. The premise is perfect. A boy who fails to get into any prestigious private schools is accidentally enrolled in a school for monsters, Yokai Academy. The only human, surrounded by snow ghosts, succubi, werewolves, vampires, witches, cat people and blob monsters quickly attracts a posse of magical females… who all want him. The age and premise make this akin to a gender-swapped City of Bones. Powerful females constantly protecting the puny human from a world that he was unwillingly cast into? Multiple suitors vying for affection? One of them is an outright stalker?


Tsukune Aono flirts with Moka Akashiya (who is a sweet girl wearing a rosary that keeps her violent vampire form underwraps), Tsukune likes her but doesn’t like sharing his blood and isn’t 100% about dating a vampire. He is also pursued by a busty succubus, Kurumu…


…and the super stalker Mizore.



Mizore begins as a villain, willing to hurt Kurumu, Moka and even Tsukune himself while in pursuit of his affections. During the altercation Tsukune blames himself. Says that this is all happening because of him. Kurumu wisely speaks up, telling him that he is not to blame, “It is never the victims fault! People are responsible for their own actions!”

This is something that is few and far between in media aimed for the tween and teen set (although I wouldn’t rate this anime in that category) we often see victim blaming in YA. Examples include, audiences not liking Clary’s “friendzoning” of Simon, the “romantic” stalker Edward’s over protectiveness of Bella, Buffy’s mother blaming her for the creeper behavior by Angelus after they sleep together. So I had a fist pump moment when she blurted that out.

Tsukune is also kind of a special snowflake himself: he’s the only one that can remove the cross from Moka’s neck. He solves his problem using traditionally female tactics like talking out problems with the monster.

Although I’m touting the feminist power of Rosario + Vampire… Moka’s transformation scene leaves much to be desired in that category.

At Anime Boston there was a panel called “Fight Like a Girl: How Magical Girls Weaponize Femininity” the presenter was named Nina (if anyone has additional info, throw me a comment, I’d love to add it) and she brought up this excellent point about magical girl transformation scenes from Sailor Moon and Ballerina Tutu. The Females put on jewelry, get a hair makeover and/or change into a fancier outfit. This can have both negative and positive interpretations. From “you have to be beautiful and girly to have power” to “you can be pretty and girly and have ability as well” to “pride in your appearance can be empowering” and it is really individual preference that will dictate one’s interpretation.


But with Moka: We get and upskirt, her breasts enlarge and her shirt busts open. Brief flashes of (albeit not graphic) nudity ensue before her hair lightens. Her inner-vampire is a true immortal in the body of a girl and I see why this happens but I have trouble concocting a positive twist on cleavage and panty shots being a sign of power. The anime itself is rated MA 18+ (there’s a BDSM teacher/monster, a perverted senior and a million upskirts) so the case can be made that this is for adults… but the characters are still Freshman and Sophomores and one member of their group is only 11, Yukari Sendou.

And the lessons learned are very teenage. Yukari, for example, faces bullying for being a witch (a “being of the borderline” AKA a supernatural HUMAN) until Moka and Tsukune stick up for her. She’s also coming to terms with her sexual orientation she falls first for Moka and then for Tsukune she wants them to have a three way relationship. In one episode, after being teased by volumptuous Kurumu she wants to grow up and visits the school nurse who feeds off her body shame and self loathing but transforms her into a beautiful womanly figure who instantly attracts attention. In the end she learns to love herself as she is and not grow up too fast. So the rating and life lessons are very incongruent. I don’t know what the rating is in Japan and I have heard that the 18+ rating is ethnocentric and based on prudish Western connotations.

Still.. there’s nothing empowering about wind blowing your skirt up.

If you can get passed that it is very good and lots of fun. I enjoy seeing how the group of friends gets out of trouble and am impressed with how often opening their circle up to other characters- who are mainly female- solves conflict. I also enjoyed the varied interpretations of monsters, and despite pandering to male audiences there is some genuine girl power.