Monday, 25 June 2012

Bleach Series 8 Part 2
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 15
Running Time: 292 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date: 14/05/2012
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

All the characters are now facing their enemies; Chad is at the point of losing, and Ichigo has the awful feeling he might be right, while Rukia is faced with the clear image of her old master Kaien Shiba, but in Espada clothing. She thinks it is strange for him to be in that garb, but when he shows her he is still the same man he was before he died so tragically before, she feels she actually trusts him. This for her is her biggest mistake. When he tells her all about his Espada abilities, she starts to shrink away from him, but he gives away the fact he has Kaien's memories and looking for a time when he can take Lord Aizen down. he is actually an Espada, formerly the Hollow that killed Kaien's wife, and later him, taking over his body, and trying to lure Rukia into a false sense of security. Once Aaroniero shows his true form, she is more worried about Kaien's soul, and the thought of freeing him from being a part of an evil Espada.

Most of the first episode is about Rukia finding she can't raise her sword against Aaroniero/Kaien and the rest is her recalling past events when she was a new recruit at Soul Reaper Academy before she went on to be under Lieutenant Kaien and Captain Ukitake. She remembers all that he told her. This is a far cry from what Kaien looked like when he was alive. Here he is, Aaroniero, a cruel, mad Espada who wields a trident like Neptune and cackles inanely. Rukia can't take much more, and has to act, but will what she feels for Kaien be enough?

Bleach is at the point where other Espada are being featured; Nnoitra fights Chad, and Renji struggles with the flamboyantly pink Szayel Apporo Grantz whose power is even stronger than Aaroniero's. Szayel isn't just an Espada, he has a rather sinister role in the series, and is the by product of another entity viewers will think enhances the story. Renji doesn't enjoy his fight, even if he tries to hide how he is failing in front of him, not when Szayel has already told him he has already assessed his capabilities in battle and can easily beat him, even when he uses his bankai. Szayel proves to be a witty and insane foe for Renji and makes him work harder than his previous enemy. Ichigo is up against an Espada he has not met before back in the world of the living when viewers thought Ichigo could never be defeated, along comes an Espada who has the potential to prove them wrong. Ulquiorra doesn't see his worth, and, before he can cause more trouble for Lord Aizen, he tries to get rid of him not realizing just how powerful he really is. Throughout these episodes each character finds themselves having to fight for their lives even though the Espada are the most likely to win being Aizen's pawns. Jealousy is a strong emotion in part two, after Loly and Menoly torment Orihime. Her healing them after Grimmjow Jaegerjaques intervenes and shows them the error of their ways, makes Orihime look like she is better than they are for not bearing a grudge.

This box set features Grimmjow again, after their meeting in Karakura Town, he wants to fight Ichigo again to prove who is the better fighter. Grimmjow is the sort of Espada who doesn't bask in the glory of Aizen's power; he is more intelligent than that. All he is interested in is fighting the best Soul Reaper around, and his mind is so set on Ichigo that he shows his own blood thirst in the process. he can sense his power and his wide grin shows his dark sense of humour. He is one of the only Espada who seems to have a mind of his won, and runs on his own instinct. As the other Espada would think about their actions, and what Aizen might do to them, he shrugs his shoulders if caught out and doesn't give a damn.

On the second disc the viewer will be able to feel the raw power of Ichigo and Grimmjow's battle, but Ichigo doesn't take into account that Orihime is so scared of him when he wears the Hollow mask. The reason for this is it reminds her of her awful encounter with her hollowfied brother several years before. One of the interesting things on this disc is Grimmjow's back story. In his early life he starts out as a Hollow and eats his way up the evolutionary ladder rankings to become the best fighter - and now he doesn't like to lose to anyone, not even Ichigo. Life on the desolate plane of Hueco Mundo is as lonely and harsh as it looks, and in a way it is easy to understand why the Arrancars and Espada are the way they are.

These episodes are full of action and enjoyment, and disc two also marks a break in the story arc, as Series 9 part 1 will feature a new arc, and an old captain for Squad Three.

Bonus Material: Art Gallery and Clean Opening and Closing.

Verdict: Bleach is a superb anime not to be missed.

Kiddy Grade Collection
Released By: MVM
Rating: PG
Running Time: 600 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 5.1
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

The original story for this title was written by gimik of GONZO and directed by Keiji Gotoh, and serialized in Monthly Shonen Ace and Monthly Dragon Jr. and published as a Kadokawa Sneaker paperback. FUNimation took up the license and distribution for the anime, putting it on air in 2007. The series itself was re-released as three different movies 80-90 minutes in length to a rapt audience, called Ignition, Maelstrom and Truth Dawn. Later due to great interest in the series, there was news of a sequel known as Kiddy Grade 2. A DVD preview was put out for all to see and later it was announced that there would be a new series called Kiddy Girl-and plus another anime called Kiddy Girl and Pure.

There have been many manga series made out of this concept, Kiddy Grade Reverse, Kiddy Grade Versus, with Light Novel Kiddy Grade EX Partner by Fumihiko Shimo, and Kiddy Grade Secret Affair.

It is set in Star Century Zero-One-Sixty-Five, which is 162 years ago when a Global Union was set up. The Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs known as GOTT when it was inaugurated. Once it was on Earth, and its role was to promote the settlement of agreements and contracts between the governments. The premise of this story sounds very serious, but that isn't what the anime is actually like. There are a few bursts of fan-service for the guys, and some rather handsome bishonen men to balance it all out.  At GOTT everyone has a right to be protected by the team there, they are the ES Force that has only twelve physically fit and well young people who also happen to have extraordinary powers. It is their job to have their mettle put to the test with organized drills where their team can stop any threat to their safety and the peoples as easily and quickly as possible. It does cause trouble though. As the girls go about their mission they soon find out that the organization they so know and love are not as nice as they thought. GOTT contains many secrets, and they have to uncover them as well as do their job - for Lumiere and Eclair this is a dangerous time.

Kiddy Grade Collection is a slick and well animated show where it shows a team of young girls employed by GOTT can kick ass just as good as the men who work there. Behind the scenes of their perfect planet, Lumiere and Eclair have to mediate in order to prevent a possible devastating war. All they have to do is deliver a man to Medeia, a distant planet and to their Prime Minister there. Traveling in their S-2 Cruiser La Mine they are in one scrape after another as far as their missions are concerned with the possibility of danger and even death. The girls wonder around in unusual and comical outfits but know how to fight when the time comes. Science fiction seems to be a staple of Japanese anime and manga, and there are plenty more series where this one came from that are of that genre, including Ghost in the Shell.

Bonus Material: Image Gallery, Character Profiles, Promo Video, Original Commercials, Text less Song, Trailers and DVD credits.

Verdict: Bouncy, fast, energetic and laugh out loud!

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 5
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 292 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Team Kakashi has come to the end of its mission and it has not been the success they had hoped. Captain Yamato has discovered how powerful Sasuke Uchiha has become since  his former training with Kakashi and his further training with his arch-nemesis to the Hidden Leaf Village, Lord Orochimaru. They knew they were no match for his new found power and had to go back to the village with nothing more than to tell Lady Tsunade that the mission was a complete failure.

For the moment this series of episodes is the end of the chase for Sasuke - for now anyway, as the three ninjas of Team Kakashi, plus their new team member, Sai, are sent onto their next mission, and lots of new characters as viewers will see in the new opening animation sequence in the second episode. Kakashi has trouble training Naruto by himself, as he is such an impatient soul who seems to want to learn new things in a split second without giving his sensei a chance to explain. And, as the viewers will find out, he has a lot to learn as well as keeping his inner nine-tailed spirit in check. Viewers might also think that Kakashi feels guilty for wanting to take time out to train Sasuke earlier, and now that he realizes it was a waste of time, he concentrates his efforts on Naruto as he has stayed faithful to the village despite his inner beast rearing once in a while.

The episodes that follow concentrate on Sai getting to know the members of Team Kakashi, and Inue, Shikamaru and Choji, though Sai makes a few humorous mistakes along the way.

Sasuke understands his own power's limits - he can't defeat Itachi, his brother as he is now, so he has offered himself to Orochimaru as his apprentice for training to fulfill that dream. It is interesting to see who might be being used in this case, as Sasuke only wants to become strong enough to reach his goal of killing Itachi.

Sasuke has accepted the fact Lord Orochimaru may take his body eventually, but Naruto, due to his special bond of friendship with him can't let that happen and doesn't understand why he wants revenge so much when he had so many friends including him in their original team back in Konoha. Now that Sasuke has managed to escape the clutches of Captain Yamato, there could be the feeling that the next series of episodes could be rather disappointing, as it could be seen as nothing more than filler before the viewers get to see Sasuke again.

It is obvious that Captain Yamato's team were at a disadvantage as Sasuke after two years of training already has proved to be too much of a deadly opponent to all of them.

As many fans of the series know, the music matches the emotional state of the episodes, and the first one has the ability to reach the individual with its intense levels of emotion as Naruto experiences the feelings of loss and despair once again, but he has his friends Sakura and Sai to keep him company. Sai fits into his new team well enough, while also keeping up the facade of being under Lord Danzo, though he knows full well who he has sided with.

Even though their mission failed, the first few episodes see the bond of team Kakashi stronger than ever. And despite Sasuke being absent, Sai fills the void he left long ago. Naruto learns more about his rasengan's chakra nature. His goal is to develop another justsu before the Akatsuko come looking for him. He has to be strong enough to take them head on, as well as being able to protect himself from being taken by them at all costs due to his having the nine-tailed beast within.

Bonus Material: Production Art Gallery of the characters and Trailers, plus extras of four minute comedy sketches after every episode that are funnier than ever and tell the viewer more about the Hidden Leaf Villages rich characters.

Verdict: Naruto Shippuden has the characters, the action and the superb drama - it's unmissable!

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 4 
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 292 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Due to what Sasori had said to Sakura and Lady Chiyo, Sakura gives this information to Lady Tsunade, the current Hokage and the result is the four leaf ninja going out to find out who Sasori would be meeting on Tenshi bridge. As we know,anything could happen, and if anything goes wrong, the team's cover would be broken. Their team leader along with Naruto, Sakura and Sai find none other than a bold and lone Kabuto who instantly finds out that the one trying to impersonate Sasori is a total impostor.

This puts the four of them in a very compromising position as who else is waiting for them around the corner but Lord Orochimaru who wants to take on the leaf ninja there, especially Naruto. He finds the nine-tailed spirit inside him interesting, and wants to see how good the kid will do under the kind of pressure he puts him, goading him on how useless he is and how he doesn't have what it takes to go toe to toe with Sasuke now he has come of age. Sasuke, he hints is very powerful now and came of his own free will. Something which Naruto doesn't for a second believe as the bite he gave him many seasons ago was designed to make him curious enough to come to him in search of power.

The first three sets were a build up toward this series of engaging episodes where the face-off between Naruto and Lord Orochimaru begins. These episodes that follow take some time to get started, but let's face it,this is the scenario most fans have been waiting for since Naruto heard of Orochimaru's existence. We have played the waiting game for so long that being made to wait a bit more doesn't seem to matter. The tension,the endless minutes of watching Naruto and Orochimaru sizing each other up is well worth it. Also, seeing Naruto evolve gradually as he allows the nine-tailed fox spirit inside him take him over takes on a sinister shade.

His transformation is well done, yet the viewer will originally think that the animation of the skin peeling off of Naruto's face could have been rendered better and more realistic until you consider it - if the animators had made a better job of it, the younger viewers might have had nightmares afterward. His change is horrifying enough without any extra touches. Naruto's loss of Sasuke plus his inability to bring him back from Orochimaru's evil clutches has turned his mind to urging the spirit inside him to lend its power so he can take the leader of the sound ninja down. Sakura and Sai can't believe what Naruto has become and it is up to Sai to start his own mission,the one Lord Danzo originally sent him on, but how is he going to do that when Naruto is causing so much chaos around him.

Sakura sees Naruto as the nine-tailed beast and breaks down at the sight of his full manifestation, as she remembers what she said to him several seasons ago about wanting him  to find Sasuke and bring him back at all costs. She feels responsible for Naruto finally giving up his body to the spirit and it tears her apart inside.

This is a two-disc epic where we get to see what kind of power the nine tails has and what will eventually happen to Naruto as a result. Kabuto, Orochimaru's henchman and former Leaf Ninja  reveals his true intentions and the viewers should be prepared for what he proposes to their leader, Naruto and Sakura.

Bonus Material: Production Art Gallery of the characters and Trailers.

Verdict: Engaging story, excellent animation - maximum watchability!

Mardock Scramble: The First Compression: Director's Cut
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 18
Running Time: 60 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese DD 5.1
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

The story concerns young Rune Balot, a prostitute who through her young life has been left alone by her mother for reasons that are not explained in the movie. In her loneliness she searches for those who will see her as a friend, and unfortunately finds her way into men's beds, even perfect strangers, not understanding the dangers she would be putting herself in. In her search for affection, she finds Shell, a cold-hearted and cruel man who acts as her pimp. His evil knows no bounds and when he doesn't have any further use for her, one day he gets her into his car, makes love to her, and leaves, locking her in the car, and gassing her to death. The police want answers and bring her back to life in order to find out who the killers are that committed the crime.

Dr. Easter is a scientist who has worked on Rune, bringing her back to full health as a cyborg with the help of Oeufcoque a golden mouse. She can be herself once again, not the hurt teenager before. She has power now, and an enhanced body that can do much damage as it can take. She still feels tainted from what Shell had done to her, but she hopes that her new found companions can look beyond what sort of person she was before. Easter and Oefcoque don't seem to be bothered about it, only that she be given the chance to make Shell's life a living hell - which she does before long.

Tow Ubukata's latest offering is a far cry from his previous works; Le Chevalier D'Eon, and Fafner-Dead Agressor. Mardock Scramble, is richly animated with striking scenery, strong characters and a lot of violence and intense drama.

Bonus Material: None
Verdict: An interesting movie if you just see it as an exciting sci-fi anime

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 9

Naruto Shippuden Box Set 9
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 300 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 5.1
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Kakashi is uneasy about their recent run in with the Sound Ninja, especially the crystal style user, Guran. Yamato can tell something is wrong, and knows they need to formulate a plot that could help the team win. While they are going through that, Shizune, Lee and the others are running as fast as they can to get to help Naruto and his team as he goes in search of young boy he had met before, Yukimaru. His mistress, Guran is mindful of anyone who might want to take him away. She knows this would have an effect on the mission to control the three-tails. Guran already has the beginning of a bond with Yukimaru, and she isn't about to let Kabuto use him, and possibly kill him in the process of reaching his and Orochimaru's personal goals.

As everyone knows Orochimaru is only interested in using allies as pawns in his carefully crafted games. After Guran has shown that she has an other interest in Yukimaru as more than a mere test subject, her men are feeling used as well when they hear what Orochimaru wants to do with the three-tails. Team Kakashi have to find out the three tails so that Orochimaru doesn't get what he wants. Lady Tsunade has thought of what they should do, and decides on two teams. They are all ready for battle, but the winner is still as of yet undecided.

Through most of the series, Naruto has been obsessed at how Sasuke has left Team Seven, and strived to get him back. In the past few episodes, Naruto's interest has turned to Yukimaru. He still has the same enthusiasm for taking him as he did with Sasuke, and Kakashi can see how it will get him into more trouble. Naruto thinks Guran is alright with using Yukimaru for their experiments, but he is so far from the truth. Guran has shown she is very fond of the boy since he said he felt he belonged with her, yet she is torn between her affection for him, and wanting to earn the respect and admiration of her master, Orochimaru. There is a confrontation with her and Kabuto, but Kabuto has hidden information on Guran that he uses to his advantage. This goes to prove just how cruel and devious Kabuto can be with his subordinates.

While all this is going on, the Akatsuki are hot on their trail in the form of Deidara and Tobi. Tobi being the new Akatsuki member introduced into the anime is a welcome addition as he is a comical type that annoys his partner most of the time. He is erratic, bounces around the screen and is fun to watch. Viewers will notice the story getting closer to what they expected of the manga, and that the incidental music chosen for the scene where Yukimaru is unleashing his terrible power is the one where Naruto faced up to Orochimaru as the nine-tails.

Kabuto is his usual sneaky self. He has been manipulating Guran since the last series, using her desire to get Orochimaru interested in her abilities. Some may get the impression that Kabuto is all promises, and Guran might not even get the recognition she thinks she deserves.
Orochimaru has already thought up what they must do, and has considered all the options so that his plan can't fail. And as this series is starting to change in a different direction, the viewers are assured of an exciting time.

Bonus Material: Production Artwork and Trailers for other anime series.

Verdict: Fast-moving, graphically wonderful - it's an attention grabber of an anime.

Hetalia Axis Powers: Paint It White!
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 61 Mins
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
Release Date: 18/06/2012
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Humour in anime series isn't rare, as it is more about the amount of humour in it, yet with Hetalia, humour is in such abundance all the way through. In the past two series, Hetalia has produced more laughs than any other anime I could think of out there. Each character represents a country, one of my personal favorites being Italy who constantly fights with Germany even though he tries to get along with anyone.

In Hetalia Axis Powers: Paint it White! all the countries have a big problem on their hands, aliens called Pictonians have come to Earth and settled in each country, going round altering humans to become them, so the great nations have to get round a table and decide how best to get rid of them. The problem is no one can come to a proper decision - Italy wants to wave a white flag at the enemy while America wants to blow the hell out of them. America takes the lead in the situation, and takes action against their enemy, as if they don't, the Pictonians will take all the colour out of the world, paining it white as it says in the title. Soon all the world is starting to look white, and Italy has only one idea when their mother ship arrives.  - get into some white alien costumes he has made and infiltrate the ship. For once they go along with his plan, but failure can't be an option if they want to save their world.

This time around, Hetalia Axis Powers has been dragged into a modern world with the addition of alien's whose sole purpose in life is to make everything like them. They see the world’s people as dysfunctional. Italy, England, Japan, China, and America try to show their hospitality to the Pictonians while on their ship, but England's scones don't go down too well. There is a lot of singing and dancing from most of the countries, but the Pictonians just view all this entertainment as weird to them. The movie is filled with extra snippets that are meant to be educational as well as comical almost all the way through.

A personal favorite is England's visit to Japan where he sees ghosts appear in his hot tub which Japan can't see.

Bonus Material: The Hidden History Hidden Within Hetalia, Hetalia: The CAPSLOCK Commentary, Original Theatrical Ending, Text less Theatrical Ending, Opening Day  Stage Greetings, Paint It White! Trailer and Outtakes.

Verdict: Laugh out loud funny, and witty, and oh, so wrong.

Maelstrom Volume 1
Released by: Yaoi Press
Writer and Artist: Yamila Abraham
Cover art:  Himitsu Studio
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

On a world where being homosexual is the norm, and no women live Planet Secren seems like nothing prisoner Demetri is used to. He will have to get used to it though, as there are many men who want him as their mate as soon as they see him; and one in particular who he is considered a perfect match for. As he is a human, earthlings are prized for their ability to be in tune with their planet's Rhythms, and they can be the best mates for Secren men, though, unfortunately for Demetri, due to his small stature, he will have to take the submissive role.

Not wanting to be matched with another man on Secren, he decides his best course of action would be to act as a celibate as it is one of three ranks human males can have on the planet. Demetri isn't a run of the mill prisoner, and he keeps what he did many years ago a secret he doesn't intend to share with anyone, not even the translator unit,
Brainbox he has been given, which causes more trouble for him than he likes.

Brainbox is certain that he will be mated to Malstrum, a strong alpha male who would have looked after him while on an outpost, but after Demetri refused to take his brand, he only bears a partial one that says he is connected to Malstrum, rather than actually being his. He could be his if he makes the right decision, but Demetri, as he has discovered, is a stubborn soul.

So, for Demetri, if he doesn't mate with Malstrum, he would be seen as fair game on the outpost, and if he made his quota mining, or more so, the other men would kill him and take it. Whereas if he decided to swallow his pride and his stubbornness, and take Malstrum as a mate, he would have his protection, and anything else that comes with it. He just needs to take a leap of faith and become his beta in his life, and in his bed.

Demetri is the sort of man who has feelings for other men, but keeps them locked inside. He doesn't want to get hitched with anyone – until he meets Malstrum. It's only when he gets the chance to talk with him that he realizes he understands his point of view, even if he wants him to change his mind about being his lover. Demetri is a natural rebel; he takes no one at face value, and doesn't let anyone walk all over him if he can help it. For him to get with another man in order to make his life easier, is a no no for him in his mind, and when he's never had a relationship with a man, let alone thought about one, he might find Malstrum a bit intense for his liking. Readers will like the dream sequence Demetri has, as it could prove to be the turning point for his attitude ready for part two of the story.

Malstrum knows how the mines work, what kind of dangers there are lurking behind every corner. He, according to the others can be trusted to protect the one he wants to take as his lover, yet Demetri has to trust him eventually or his life-expectancy on Secren might not be much. He is a strong man, and has seen more of Secren and
experienced its people, while Demetri has yet to find out how dangerous the mines are when you are alone. Malstrum wants to give Demetri a chance to prove himself to the men there if he can.

Verdict: Maelstrom 1 is a sensual introduction to a powerful story that leaves the reader begging for more. It is available to buy on Kindle and iPad as well as the Yaoi Press website.

Zolabarth Bi
Released By: Yaoi Press
Author and Artist: Yamila Abraham/Himitsu Studio
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Rig-mertians are one of the most powerful races in the entire universe, and Maximus has to use one at his disposal to take out an army who had previously tried to use a mind-control device on him in order to make him work for them. He cannot forgive this slight, and has Zolabarth accomplish a task he can’t. Maximus has needs of another kind though, and when Zolabarth isn’t terrorizing an army of his choice, he can change his shape to suit his master’s every desire.

Zolabarth is annoyed that his master made him have a weaker form as when he changes from monster to humanoid, he takes on the form of a woman, and that satisfies Maximus’s sensual side. Rig-mertians as a species are rare, there are only six of them left and all of them work for Xenith, a very powerful woman ruler.

This sounds fine for the moment, but Zolabarth hides a terrible secret, one that could destroy any friendship they had – he slayed his other master for trying to make-out with him, and he could do the same to Maximus-if he isn’t careful. Maximus knows the risks he is taking, but he is so wrapped up in his desire to destroy the army that he is prepared to die if the Rig-mertian he uses accomplishes his task.

Despite the way Yamila makes Zolabarth sound dangerous and menacing, she gives him a great sense of humour. I found myself liking him instantly as a character as he knows what will happen if he disobeys his new master, Maximus, but he equally shows how uninterested he is in him.  Zolabarth has to make sure he is as loyal as he can be to him, or he could feel Maximus’s true wrath.

It seems that science fiction is also where the writer of this work wants to go with for now, and who can blame her with fleshed out characters who have their own agendas, and unusual aliens who can change gender – this story could go anywhere, and that is what is so appealing about Yamila’s work.

Yaoi Press have been changing their general look with their manga for a while now and have decided to go for a full novella length story with 8 manga pages within it to give readers and proud followers of the company what they want. Readers will no doubt find this is a good idea considering how many are out there who like the written story or novel and others who have always enjoyed the graphic novel side of manga.

Verdict: Yamila excels at Science Fiction and Yaoi, and this one will go to show how much she has put into the story, the characters and how the art should look. This is visually stunning and reads like a dream.

Baka and Test: Summon The Beasts
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 325 Mins
Audio: English DD 5.1 and Japanese DD 2.0
Release Date: 28/05/2012
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

"If we win a Summoner Test War we can have a rug!"

Akihisa Yoshii has managed to get into Fumizuki Academy, but it's on the seat of his pants. After getting his grades handed to him he couldn't feel any less the idiot everyone thinks he is as receiving an F was the worst thing ever. He does have another chance at proving himself though, but not in the way he thinks. Unfortunately, now that he is in Class F it isn't what he expected, once he sees Class A with all their plush furniture and high tech technology. Once he gets to his class, the place looks drab, damp, and crappy - like a classroom from his worst nightmares. All the cushions have no padding in them, the tables and seats have breaks in them, and there's a draft that chills the bone coming through broken windows All the kids in there are scruffy looking and in one corner there is the Class F inquisition complete with black hoods and whips.

Everyone has to put up with it, of course, but Yoshii wants more from Class F, and for the sake of his fellow students (he really means Mizuki) he wants to implement a Class War challenging Class E to a Summoner Test War or STW. This means that as long as a teacher is present, a student can bring forth their avatar (a cute chibi version of themselves) and their power is based on their being adept at a certain subject. They fight using their respective avatars, and if they win, then can exchange equipment with the higher ranked losing class. Yoshii thinks this is the only way they can have a decent looking class with all the neat tech gear that he desires.

Just when you think they haven't got a chance in hell of beating Class E, they actually prove they can do it - but that is when the problems start as Class A get to hear about their new found success, and challenge them to a Summoner Test War. Once they fight against the other classes though they find it isn't as easy at all, but instead of fighting for the objects from all the classes, they decide to win their way up to Class A where they plan on beating them and taking all their precious stuff - even the shiny laptops and the coffee machine.

Yoshii first meets Mizuki and that's when the drama kicks off. All the kids in Class F are seen as the losers at school, the ones least likely to get good grades, but if they do well in tests, they must make the grade. Yoshii is the comic of the bunch, but also the unfortunate one who gets dragged away by the Class F inquisition who are ever ready with an endless supply of torture devices if he messes up. He has a thing for Mizuki while another kid has a fancy for him too. Due to his always having to take the girls out to the cinema and for expensive crepes, he finds he is almost always low on funds to get him through the weeks ahead.

The story is interesting, fun and each episode is as good as the last. The basic idea is about how a class can get themselves up from the bottom, if not with their grades, with their brawn if it comes to it. They want the stuff that Class A has but they have to work harder for it as they are more intelligent and harder to fight. Yoshii is constantly known as the idiot, and keeps getting beaten up by the other girls, while Kota, the resident kid photographer keeps looking up girls skirts, and Yuji fails as class leader and ends up being kept as a chained slave by Shoko.

Bonus Material: Mission: Impossible: Baka Preview, Baka-Outs Cross-Dressing Contest, Mission Impossible: Baka Mission 01, Mizuki Himeji Girls' Meal, The King Game in Fumizuki Academy and Special Christmas Footage.

Verdict: If you think Hetalia is fun - this is the new fun and it's chock full of comedy, wild antics and kick ass special effects.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Enjoy the Freeze

Many titles from Yaoi Press are well known for their style, they are well written, fun and sensual. This time they have gone for the more textual novels rather than the yaoi manga, though when you look at the front cover of this title, Ice Cage it still leaves you in yaoi heaven.

Ice Cage is to all intents and purposes the yaoi version of The Thing but without the alien being who can shape shift, plus there's no sign of any gore. The story is set on the Arctic where a young man is brought to live there for fifteen months of the year. He is participating in a scientific experiment with the other men there, or at least that is the premise. When he gets there of course, he finds out what they really want - hot, steamy sex with him. Bearing in mind they have not been able to enjoy themselves for a long while, who can blame them.

They will just have to hope he agrees with them, or there could be problems in that huge igloo of theirs.

Beloved 5860 (to be finished)

Written by Yamila Abraham and with art by Studio Kosen, Beloved 5860 is another text based story with a beautiful illustration by Auro and Diana of Studio Kosen. (they are best known for illustrating the Saihoshi series and Stallion.

Each Beloved, and there are three in all are stand alone stories, and this one has one of the most stunning covers of a couple hugging. In the story it seems love can conquer all, even a monster like the demigod Malachi. Every 200 years he sleeps and there is peace across Sensicry, then when he wakes there is the possibility of all out war. There is only one man who can save this world and its people, but he is also an ally for good.

Jace is known as the avatar, and the one who can help the people by satisfying Malachi's every sexual whim, but he must make sure he falls truly and deeply in love with him or else...

Created by the writer who gave us Zolabarth Bi and Maelstrom,Yamila has created a wonderful fantasy story with a touch of erotica to keep us girls happy!

Cloud's Sword from Final Fantasy VII

We all remember seeing Cloud tearing around on his bike, throwing together parts of his sword to fight his enemies in the movie Final Fantasy: Advent Children, but you never thought you could get the bits that make up his weapon.

The fun and interactive part of this is that the sword can be as it is, separate in its case for your friends to admire, or assembled into the one huge sword Cloud wields around through part of the movie.. The look of it is impressive, and it is expensive, yet it is made out of metal, and has it own kit ready for assembly, so that explains it really.

 Its overall look is epic and one every collector of Final Fantasy memorabilia will want to have in their collection.

Verdict: Let's face it - it looks awesome!

Ichigo 1/8 Scale PVC G.E.M. Series Figure

Action figures can be a great addition to your home and when you can choose from Final Fantasy, Fullmetal Alchemist and Naruto, you would expect them to look a bit better than they actually do.

Remember the rather camp-looking Lord Aizen figure of him in one of his final transformations? Well, this one doesn't fare any better, ether. This 1/8 scale PVC G.E.M. Series Figure of Ichigo Kurosaki from popular anime series Bleach would be great if his face did not look like it had spent an entire lifetime being jammed in a lift.

His hair too makes him resemble a flame-haired hedgehog-not our 'Strawberry' at his best.

Admittedly, Megahouse Japan have got the rest of the model correct right down to the sword, and obi with bandages, but that is about it. Collectors want to see their figures looking right, and this could do with a facial makeover.

Verdict: It's one for your collection, but only if you want to complete a set.