Marvel Talkers ‘Vader Down’ Fall Crossover Event

Marvel Talkers ‘Vader Down’ Fall Crossover Event With the strong sales that both Star Wars and Darth Vader are seeing as they dominate the charts, it’s no surprise that they’ll be bringing the two of them together in a clearer way this fall for an event. That event is a miniseries called Vader Down, which is bringing the writers of the two series togehter with Jason Aaron (Star Wars, Thor) and Kieron Gillen (Darth Vader, Young Avengers) to work with artists Mike Deodato (Original Sin) and Salvador Larroca (Darth Vader) for this new tale.

“This is a true crossover in the classic Marvel Style,” says Editor Jordan D. White. “Kicking off in the Vader Down one-shot, the story then bounces between DARTH VADER and STAR WARS, telling a story that is essential to the plotlines of both books, that takes the casts from each and smashes them together in one epic tale!”

“They’ve got Vader in quite a predicament,” says Jason Aaron in an interview with Marvel.com. “He’s grossly outnumbered and his ship has crashed on this alien landscape. Whether everybody believes they can do it or not, they know this is their best shot to capture him or kill him or whatever. When you get that shot, you’ve got to take it and send everyone you’ve got down after him.”

Plot concept: Vader’s TIE Fighter has been shot down. Seeing this as their one, best chance to take Vader down once and for all, the Rebellion is ready to throw everything they have at him. Alone, outnumbered, and outgunned, Darth Vader now must face down the entire might of the Rebel Fleet. But the Rebels are about to learn the true unrestrained power of the Dark Side of the Force. With the Rebellion putting it all on the line, could this risky gambit cripple their forces in the fight against the Empire?

To defeat their greatest enemy, the Rebel Alliance will risk it all. Be there as the Star Wars: Vader Down crossover kicks off in an oversized VADER DOWN #1 one-shot this November and continues in the pages of STAR WARS and DARTH VADER!

VADER DOWN #1
Written by JASON AARON & KIERON GILLEN
Art by MIKE DEODATO & SALVADOR LARROCA
Cover by MARK BROOKS
On Sale in November!

Marvel Talkers ‘Vader Down’ Fall Crossover Event

Final ‘Ai Tenchi Muyo!’ Japanese Release Gets New Pack-In CD Promo

Final ‘Ai Tenchi Muyo!’ Japanese Release Gets New Pack-In CD Promo With the first two volumes of Ai Tenchi Muyo released so far this year, VAP has now set its sights on the third and final installment that’s due out on March 18th, 2015. Similar to the first two, this one is focusing on the character songs that will be included with the CD for this release, giving us a two minute sampling total of the two pieces that are on it.

The show is clocking in at 50 episodes for its run, but at four minutes each, so we’re getting three releases on both formats. Set for release monthly beginning on January 21st, 2015, the Blu-ray releases will be priced at 6,800 yen each while the DVDs are at 5,800 yen each.

Each release will have about 15 episodes or so, with some variation to get it to the 50 mark. On disc extras so far include an audio commentary track. The releases are coming with a character song CD for each volume as well. The second volume is set to include a radio drama CD as well as a bonus. On disc extras include an audio commentary and a clean ending sequence.

Plot concept: The world is in trouble because Washu is stirring up trouble again. In order to save the world from crisis, Tenchi goes undercover as a teacher in a girls’ school. However, many problems arise as Tenchi is predisposed to finding trouble.

The previous promo and the Japanese artwork:

Final ‘Ai Tenchi Muyo!’ Japanese Release Gets New Pack-In CD Promo

Ai Tenchi Muyo Japanese Volume 2

Final ‘Ai Tenchi Muyo!’ Japanese Release Gets New Pack-In CD Promo

Ai Tenchi Muyo Japanese Volume 2

Final ‘Ai Tenchi Muyo!’ Japanese Release Gets New Pack-In CD Promo

Ai Tenchi Muyo Japanese Volume 1

Final ‘Ai Tenchi Muyo!’ Japanese Release Gets New Pack-In CD Promo

Ai Tenchi Muyo Japanese Volume 1

Crunchyroll Adds ‘Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches’ For Spring 2015 Anime Lineup

Crunchyroll Adds ‘Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches’ For Spring 2015 Anime Lineup One of the more anticipated titles of the crowded spring 2015 anime season has now found a home on Crunchyroll with the announcement of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. The streaming service has announced a planned April 12th debut wit hit starting at 12:30pm ET for premium users and a week later for free members. The show has some decent availability to it with it being open to audiences in the USA, Canada, Central and South America (including the Caribbean), South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

The series is schedule to run for twelve episodes, though we expect there will be some further OAD projects and like an unaired episode for the eventual home video release as well. The project will be directed by Tomoki Takuno, who is doing storyboards as well, with Fumiaki Usui serving as assistant director while Eriko Iida will be handling the character designs and Michiko Yokote on the scripts.

The cast so far now includes Ryota Ohsaka as Ryu Yamada, Saori Hayami as Urara Shiraish, Toshiki Masuda as Toranosuke Miyamura, Maaya Uchida as Miyabi Ito, Masumi Tazawa as Rika Saionji, Aoi Yūki as Noa Takigawa, Toshiharu Sasaki as Kentarō Tsubaki, Eri Kitamura as Nene Odagiri, Daisuke Ono as Ushio Igarashi, Yui Makino as Meiko Ōtsuka, Yuki Takao as Maria Sarashima, Shinnosuke Tachibana as Shinichi Tamaki, Tomokazu Sugita as Hideaki Tsurukawa and Yuuki Ono as Mitsuru Kamedea.

The series is based on the manga by Miki Yoshikawa, which debuted its OAD on December 17th, 2014 and will release the second on May 15th, 2015 with the 17th volume of the manga.

Plot concept: Shiraishi Urara is the top student in her school. One day, due to an accidental kiss, Urara finds herself in the body of the school delinquent, Yamada Ryuu! In trying to switch back to their own bodies, Urara and Ryuu discover that kissing causes them to switch bodies, which leads to their discovery that there are 7 witches in their school. They soon try to uncover the identities of the 7 witches…

Conan the Avenger #17 Review

Conan the Avenger #17 Review Fun in the sand.

Creative Staff:
Story: Fred Van Lente
Art: Brian Ching
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft

What They Say:
Conan’s out for blood in a desert oasis as he stalks the bandits responsible for the slaughter of a trading caravan—and the man he believes to be their accomplice, the sinister Kerim Shah. But is the Cimmerian on the right trail, or is there something more mysterious afoot?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Having just escaped the dreaming city, Xuthal, Conan and Natala find release from the desert’s ravages at the Oasis of Akrel. It’s here at the oasis that they discover the Tower of Silence, which looms over the watering hole, a lighthouse in the desert, shining a beacon for all weary travelers to follow. The two meet others at the oasis, including Valerius, a Khauranian soldier who is escorting his queen on a secret meeting. Together, they come upon a group of slaughtered nomads and caged slaves, and Conan and Valerius race to the Tower to meet vengeance upon the raiders responsible.

In the tower, the two encounter the monks of silence—mute enemies wearing golden masks, tasked with protecting the beacon at all costs. Well, Conan encounters them while Valerius reads their history out loud from a mural. Van Lente and Ching do a great job of juxtaposing a scene of necessary exposition with action, creating three pages that are funny and exciting while at the same time adding context and backstory to frame the current events. It’s a technique that can only really be done in comics, allowing the writer and artist the luxury of informing us without slowing down or stopping the plot.

While Conan plays in the tower, Natala cools her heels with Valerius’ queen. The two talk about Conan while the rest of the Queen’s retinue indulge themselves with a group of prostitutes they saved from the slave market (this comic would definitely not pass the Bechdel test). Unfortunately, the prostitutes are not what they seem, and their leader is a face from Conan’s past, straight from the earliest issues of Kurt Busiek’s launch of Dark Horse’s Conan revival. I won’t spoil who it is, but I am excited to see her back and to see Van Lente’s take on her.

Of course, Conan and Valerius know nothing of this. They reach the beacon at the top of the tower and finally get one of the monks to talk. It turns out the beacon wasn’t designed to lead travelers to the oasis—it was created to keep at bay a fell creature from the outer dark named Nazu. The monks know nothing of the slaughtered caravan and thought that Conan came to douse the flame. Too late Conan realizes he’s been on a wild goose chase, and now it seems he may have fallen into a trap designed to ensnare the Khauranian queen.

As always, the writing on this comic is superb. Van Lente captures Conan’s voice, while at the same time making it his own. He also excels at capturing the raw, red feeling that lied at the heart of the best Conan stories. Van Lente seems particularly suited to this comic, as does the artistic team.

Once again, Ching and Atiyeh prove to be one of my all-time favorite artist-colorist pairs. Their style seems particularly suited to Conan—bloody and kinetic, moody and atmospheric, willing to make the title character and his actions ugly-yet-magnetic. Ching uses rough lines, often implying more than detailing, while uses color to create and enhance the emotion of scenes. I would be perfectly happy if this team stayed on this title for quite some time.

In Summary:
Conan the Avenger 17 brings a ghost from Conan’s past and the prospect of some Lovecraftian horror. As always, the writing and art are top-notch and this team stays true to the spirit of Howard’s original stories while at the same time adding something substantial to the already rich field of extant Conan stories. Dr. Josh gives this an….

Grade: A

Age Rating: N/A
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: August 26th, 2015
MSRP: $3.50

TV Tokyo Highlights 25th ‘Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors’ Japanese Dubbed Episode

TV Tokyo Highlights 25th ‘Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors’ Japanese Dubbed Episode TV Tokyo continues to have close ties to Disney and their Marvel side as they’ve currently broadcasting the third season of Ultimate Spider-Man with Web Warriors. We’re in the home stretch and now the first bit of promotion for the twenty-fifth episode landing on September 22nd has arrived. This episode kicks off the third of the four-part season finale and that means there’re a lot of guest stars to be had with it. The series gets some prime broadcast real estate as it’s a 6:30 pm show, making it part of a lot of family’s dinner time together in Japan.

This season of the series was originally broadcast during the late summer/fall of 2014 in North America. If anyone knows the cast information for this series, please let us know as I’ve not been able to track it down.

Plot concept: Spider-Man teams up with Iron Spider, Agent Venom and Thor against Terrax, Attuma and Annihilus in a fight within the subway. Then Spider-Man uses Life Model Decoys to distract Grandmaster so he, Iron Spider and Agent Venom can board Grandmaster’s ship to save the hostages.

Sword Art Online Progressive Vol. #02 Manga Review

Sword Art Online Progressive Vol. #02 Manga Review Asuna proves herself on the front lines.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Reki Kawahara/Kiseki Himura
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul

What They Say
The party is shaken when their leader, Diavel, is struck down by the boss of the very first floor. Asuna and her teammates are confronted for the first time with the cruel reality of their situation: Sword Art Online is no mere game–death here is final. Their commander lost, the remaining fighters begin to lose heart and plan their retreat. But the fight must go on if they are to escape this game world, and in his dying moments, Diavel managed to convey his appointment for the next commander–Kirito!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As in the anime, the battle with the first floor boss ends with Diavel dead and Kirito dubbed a beater. However, Progressive puts its own spin on the fight. For one, Asuna takes more of a commanding role, showing hints of the guild leader she’s going to become. For another, the emotional aftermath is more complicated. Interestingly, sourpuss Kibaou, who started the beta/cheater/beater uproar against Kirito in the anime, winds up sympathizing with him in this scene. Kirito and Asuna still have a private conversation before Kirito goes off on his own, but Progressive’s version is more prolonged and has a distinct romantic tension to it.

Going into Chapter 008, it’s all completely new material. Both the Aincrad manga and the anime gloss over Floor 2, but we get to watch events progress gradually even as Asuna gradually improves. She’s not the only one having to sort herself out in the early days of SAO, though. Chapter 009 provides a glimpse of the beginnings of the guilds, and at this point, they’re a lot of fancy names and swagger and not much else.

Overall, the tone on Floor 2 is much lighter than I anticipated. Perhaps that’s because the only fight thus far is against a field boss that looks like a big bull. When the players take it on, they seem more concerned with who gets the glory of being on the front rather than the risk of a fatal hit. As such, it really does feel more like a “game” rather than the constant life/death struggle of Aincrad, especially when Asuna and Kirito compete to see who can take out the most windwasps for shortcake.

Asuna’s continued interactions with Kirito are also a surprise. The anime and Aincrad made it seem like the two didn’t cross paths again until Asuna had joined the Knights of the Blood, but in Progressive, they meet again days after clearing Level I. The two have a great rapport, and while Asuna is intrigued by Kirito, he’s obviously besotted by her. For those who were not so thrilled with the harem aspect of the SAO anime, this version of Asuna and Kirito’s early relationship might prove an enjoyable alternative.

Extras include the title page and table of contents in color, bonus illustration from artist Tomoya Haruno, and closing remarks from the creators.

In Summary
Progressive continues to deliver a strong storyline with artwork to match. In addition to showing Asuna’s development as a fighter, we also see players organizing the beginnings of the guilds as they proceed through Aincrad’s Floor 2. Interestingly, the plot includes more early interaction between Asuna and Kirito. Although that deviates somewhat from the beater/solo fighter persona Kirito had in the anime, Asuna/Kirito fans will probably enjoy seeing Kirito’s early attraction to Asuna.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
MSRP: $13.00

Ten Years Later: School Rumble Anime Series

Ten Years Later: School Rumble Anime Series

School Rumble was originally aired in Japan on October 5, 2004 and lasted for 26 episodes finishing on March 29, 2005. It would have a short OVA release in December 2005 before a second season aired in April 2006, and the final OVA released in 2008 (which hasn’t been licenced). It is based on the original manga by Jin Kobayashi that ran between 2002 and 2008. Funimation originally licensed it in 2007 and released it initially in single DVDs before the second season (dubbed 2nd Semester) was released in half box sets. The series also spawned a few video games, some concert performances and a pseudo-sequel known as School Rumble Z. For the purposes of this look back, I will be focusing primarily on the first season with mentions of the sequel. As you can expect, there are spoilers if you haven’t seen this show.

Ten Years Later: School Rumble Anime Series Looking back at School Rumble, I am surprised at how many shows I can now recognise take a similar format of short scenes that segue together rather than focusing on a single story the whole episode. Whilst a show like Azumanga Daioh happened before, to this day a show like Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun follows this type of formula. Out of the three shows from ten years ago that I’ve looked back on though, this one definitely shows its age the worst. Whilst Maria-sama ga Miteru and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha could still hold their own in today’s market, School Rumble could easily get lost in the shuffle—as whilst it is still very humorous, there are a lot of obvious flaws you can see nowadays especially with hindsight in play.

The ‘plot’, as it were, is basically your classic school romance/comedy/slapstick. The initial focus is on our heroine Tenma Tsukamoto, a rather ditzy young girl, who, to quote herself, has no real special talents…bar being pretty much not very good at most things. However, she is a cute girl in love…with the resident weirdo, Karasuma. And considering the weird cast this show has, Karasuma is top dog in the weirdo stakes. However, he isn’t the primary male character—that honour belongs to Harima Kenji, a badass biker with a notorious reputation who for some reason is actually in love with Tenma and wants to change. His introduction—driving a bike into school…before realising he was held back a grade (and then practically begging the teachers to get ahead and be in Tenma’s class) just cements that despite his intro this guy is going to bring a lot of the comedy.

Ten Years Later: School Rumble Anime Series Indeed, when you get a high speed bicycle chase (yes, you read that right) and Matrix-style arrow dodging (again, you read that right) you know this series is going to be a tad silly. And in a lot of areas it works—it even does add a bit of drama in at times (why Harima fell for Tenma is interesting, because it does tie into stuff later in the manga) and when Harima actually does become friends with Tenma, his jealousy to anyone who likes Tenma is both annoying and hilarious to watch.

The problem is two-fold though. Whilst Harima is a great lead and no questions asked, the funniest character in the show, a lot of the humour is quite repetitive. It usually revolves around Harima misunderstanding something, and then somehow reworking the misunderstanding to the fact that Tenma likes him (even when she actually says in one episode ‘Harima, you jerk!’ to one of her friends, he later does warp that into the fact that she is apologising to him!). Now fortunately a lot of the repetition is more in the 2nd season but there is a lot here as well.

The second problem is Tenma…is not an interesting lead. This is mainly because her friends and sister are far more likeable, interesting, and entertaining. She is in fact quite annoying at times, and I think the mangaka and the show actually realise this about halfway through, and focus more on two of the more popular characters, Eri and Yakumo (more on them in a bit), as potential love interests for Harima…but again, despite this, they still put him head over heels for Tenma. Now granted, this is an admirable quality that Harima is purely only Tenma-sexual, but for the viewers, the fact that two much more likeable and attractive girls are put together as a much more interesting relationship for Harima (and the viewer) does make your head grind a bit. And 10 years later, I even found myself changing my opinions on quite a few of the other characters.

Ten Years Later: School Rumble Anime Series As the episodes grow, we get a lot of traditional episodes, and more characters are introduced and used. We get some beach episodes (where the four main girls pair off with Harima, the rival Hanai, the playboy Imadori, and the boring guy Nara who apparently was going to be the lead originally…), some festival episodes (which explores the friendship between Eri and Mikoto, which also is the first potential spot where Eri may like Harima occurs, which causes some genuine friction between the girls), and episodes where Harima actually develops a bit as a character as he becomes a mangaka, with Tenma’s sister Yakumo being his assistant, and perhaps his first true friend as well. (Strangely though he does mention it a few times, he doesn’t use his relationship with Yakumo as a way to try and get in with Tenma…though Yakumo also causes friction unintentionally as Tenma thinks they are a couple, causing some cold air with Eri…) The characters do link with each other in a lot of ways.

It does bring a lot of characters to the plate, and a lot of annoyances. Hanai, for example, got worse for me when I rewatched it with his repetition of going after Yakumo, because unlike Harima, he got no real development apart from a few moments with Mikoto. Imadori is your typical jerk playboy who lovable side character Ichijou likes but he fears her (and you do ask what the hell she sees in him). Basically bar maybe one male (Asou, who develops more in the second season) most of the male characters, bar Harima, are very one-dimensional and dull/uninteresting.

Ten Years Later: School Rumble Anime Series The females fair way better, but rewatching it showcases how my thoughts on the show have changed. My favourite character when watching it first was Eri—she was the princess of the group, very snarky, the rich girl in love with the thug, etc. She provided a lot of key moments in the relationships, but when rewatching it, I realised she was actually quite selfish a lot, and her quirks actually made her not that sympathetic to her initial plight (father always away at work). This causes friction with Mikoto and Yakumo for example, which in Yakumo’s case does continue a bit into the second season. Yakumo herself also was a favourite of mine, she was the perfect housewife girl, who could be very badass when she needed to, and the relationship between her and Harima was genuinely heart-warming because of their love of animals. However, again, rewatching makes me see her as too perfect, and whilst she is far better than Tenma, she can be seen as a bit boring in contrast to a lot of the characters.

Fortunately, School Rumble has a ton of characters, and quite a lot of them supply the perfect humour and support. We have Mikoto, Hanai’s childhood friend martial arts expert, who I liked far more than I remembered when I first watched it because she was always smiling, helping out but with a touch of steel. Speaking of steel, there is that gorgeous figure, Akira, a real wildcard of a character who is the other girl of the four, and completely different from the rest—unlike poor Karasuma who is a wildcard and that is it, she adds a real flavour to the group and something unique in their discussions. The side cast of ladies also fairs a lot better: the aforementioned Ichijou, despite liking one of the most annoying characters, is really a sweet little badass (shown as being stronger than both Harima and Hanai) in the wrestling club (made more fun when Mexican girl Lala debuts and becomes her rival); Yakumo’s best friend Sarah is an absolute sweetheart who is helpful but cheeky and likes to embarrass her sempai when she gets the chance; and Itoko, the main teacher we see and Harima’s cousin, is a gorgeous no nonsense sensei who knows Harima’s buttons and how to make him tick, usually in his humiliation.

Ten Years Later: School Rumble Anime Series The humour and a bit of the development are actually pretty strong. There is one moment near the end of the series where Harima finally actually decides not to be a dunce when he tricks Tenma to buying Karasuma a poor present, but feels bad and changes his mind and gets something else. Some of the mini arcs are really strange (Harima, after being rejected as he thinks, goes out to sea to become a fisherman…where the giant captain turns out to be a manga author as well…O.K….) but some really cheer him on (when Eri shaves him bald…long story…and he is the anchor in a relay race against a fellow class—this also brings the Eri/Harima relationship into the spotlight) and you do want to root for Harima despite his idiocies. (Seriously, posing naked in a room when anyone can see you, THEN instead of explaining to the half naked girl entering, you practically gag her from behind, and are just fortunate enough the next person who sees the situation is Akira…)

The show does also have a decent dub behind it: this was the first time I heard Leah Clark in something that wasn’t soft as Eri, Luci Christian as Tenma is near perfect, and Brandon Potter as Harima in his debut was surprisingly good. There are niggles but overall it is still good. The problem is that 10 years later the show doesn’t seem that unique and/or special. There are a lot of fun moments, but the fact it takes awhile for the truly fun characters to get involved, combined with a lot of repetitive jokes and misunderstandings, and you do have to groan at how a lot of this anime is shown.

I do feel the anime has sadly aged, but considering there are similar shows which have a similar formula to this day, I find it hard to say it would be out of place. It just doesn’t feel as enjoyable as it was back then sadly—though there are a lot of laughs, the characters on the whole aren’t as memorable as they were, with some of the leads and side characters being downright annoying and forgettable. But occasionally, there are some great moments with some fun characters, with good comedy and some surprisingly touching moments and even dramatic ones in a comedy, so I can’t say I don’t like this series nowadays, and glad I slapped it back in the DVD player. Not as good as I remember, but still gives me a smile.