[SHT] Singing What Rider Who?!

What's up my milleniums? BlackWinged Magician is back with- this is not AR where the hell am I?
That's right, since AR closed down, things have been all over the place and it might have been the end of the BlackWing name! But Akiya, or now better known now as Reader Watcher Girl, has allowed to make her sight available to me so I can continue my favorite, segment-!
(for those who're new, just think of this as an insight into shows with men and women in spandex fighting rubber monsters? Get it? Got it? Good.)
Alright! It's been a while so let's dive into Kamen Rider Hibiki and oh God what is this?!
So I'm gonna skip the usual backstory exposition and all that cause quite frankly, I'm barely watching this... and I have no idea what the hell is going on... I'm serious this show is already giving me feels that are WEIRD and I've only watched up to episode 3. But let's just start at Episode 1.
Ok so we start out with the normal warning-
Oh God what've I gotten myself into...
For one, this one of the only Kamen Rider Series that I've seen that does not have an intro with lyrics (I understand that all Heisei Riders have intros with lyrics save for Hibiki). Personally, I think it makes the intro a little more epic in a way.
We then cut to a kid riding a bike through town while noises are being played rhythmically.
Singing what...
Why's everyone singing?
WHAT IS GOING ON?! Ok so from what I gather, people sing randomly and kanji just pops out throughout the episodes at random.... What is this Japanese High School Musical ft. Kamen Rider?!
Ok so we cut to Asumu(this kid I guess) and his mom on a boat. They're going to some island or something.
And some weird guy who sings about everything he sees, cool.
Whose kid is this?
Hey, does this child belong to ANYONE?!
Ok so stupid baby is stupid and falls off the ledge but weird singy guy saves the day. Oh and you'll never guess this guys name. No really guess. His actual name is Hibiki, which cool/weird and slightly lazy. I don't know I guess there'll be an explanation later.
Who the hell are these two. Why does he sound like a she and why does she sound like a she. I'm not judging or anything I'm just really confused.
Gee, you think Hibiki's gimmick is singing about everything that happens around him? It's kind hard to tell at this point! *SARCASM*
And Hibiki has some pretty cute sidekicks, cool.
We see Hibiki take out a CD that turns into a bird.... just watch it. Ok so Asumu is annoyed by his family, as all prepubescent teens, and his mom's *cough*hot*cough* friend whisks him away to have fun in the mountains. I'm sure NOTHING wrong is gonna happen.
Well what'll you know, Hibiki is on the same trail as these two! What coinky-dink!
What spider webs what. Hot friend kidnapped, I don't- what is going on.
So they find hot lady friend and Hibiki makes Asumu stay with the hot unconscious lasy.... Ok.... And he goes off and transforms (WITHOUT saying Henshin I may add) and jumps around the woods for a bit. Oh and he kills the guy-I mean girl- I mean guy- I mean- what ever the hell that thing is.
Alright, so obviously this is NOT a normal Kamen Rider series. I mean, just imagine how confused I was when I was actually WATCHING this. It's VERY different and deviates HEAVILY from even the most basic Kamen Rider cliches. Hibiki doesn't even say henshin when he transforms, a staple of Kamen Rider's transformations. Also, they're not really Kamen Rider so much as Oni. You know, Japanese Ogres/Monsters? The series form what I understand is heavily based on traditional Japanese lore and music. Also, the series itself had a complete change in writers right in the middle... This is gonna be a fun one to watch. Overall though, it's just weird. Not to say it's bad or anything, it just feels like a Kamen Rider series and not at all at the same time. It deviates completely from the norms that the Kamen Rider series that came before it set, which is refreshing. But in a way, it deviates a little too much. It's still interesting, I'm interested enough to continue watching, it's just.... Watch it and you'll get. I will give it props though, for having one of the most BEAUTIFUL suit designs EVER in Kamen Rider. That counts for ALOT.


[AOW] Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (11/11-17/2012) [#69]

At the time when I started watching this anime, only 2 episodes were out. I specifically wanted to watch some romance anime that were almost like Kimi no Todoke but without all the bull shit bubbles and sparkle fillers that KnT was (and it's quite stupid to go two full seasons without so much as a confession!!!!!).

Image © Brains Base

I am really enjoying this anime. At first it had that ToraDora feel, but without the angry female lead and the male lead isn't really misunderstood due to angry looking eyes- he really is a trouble maker. There are a lot of feels in this anime, and I can see this as being one of my favorites if not my only favorite this anime season :3 Also, who doesn't love an anime where the title translates to "My Little Monster"?

Type: manga adaptation
Genre(s): comedy, drama, romance
# of Episodes: 12
Bookworm Shizuku Mizutani has few interests besides her grade and future career. Requested by her teacher, Mizutani brought handouts to Haru Yoshida, a boy who should have been seated next to her but was suspended due to injuring another student in a fight on the first day of school. Because of the favor, Yoshida now considers Mizutani a friend, and she also learns that Yoshida is in fact a very nice, gentle guy.
Shizuku Mizutani only one goal in life, to secure a lucrative career, and to that end she dedicates her life to studying to get good grades. She is bribed by her teacher to deliver homework handouts to Haru Yoshida, a boy who should have been seated next to her but was suspended due to injuring another student in a fight on the first day of school. Because of the favor, Yoshida now considers Mizutani a friend, and she also learns that Yoshida is in fact a very nice, gentle guy has no social skills and who is prone to violence at the drop of a hat. Mizutani has to decide if she will let Yoshida into her life to be friends, or perhaps more than friends.


[AOW] World God Only Knows II (11/4-10/2012) [#68]

For the past week or so I haven't really watched any anime; mainly because I was busy packing up for my move that was made this past Saturday. Today I'm finishing up unpacking/ setting up my new room! You can see plenty of pictures on my Facebook fan page. I particularly love my new Hetalia America flag, and thanks to having this new place I have somewhere to hang it. The place I was living before (in a spare room at a friends house) didn't have much room for anything and I really wanted to hang this flag over a window, which I was able to do. *cough* Anyways, enough about my move (I have plenty of space to talk about that on the fan page).

Since I haven't really watched anything or read anything (other than a few pages of the Oreimo manga) I decided this week to feature an anime that has always stuck out to me (it's one of my favorites as listed on my MAL page). I have featured TWGOK before (but that was season one, since there has been a second season added).

Full Title: The World God Only Knows II (Season 2)
Image © Manglobe

The World God Only Knows is one of my favorite anime for several reasons but mainly because of the main voice actor Hiro Shimono who does some of the funniest voice work I have heard in anime. Well, while looking up who'd be doing the English voice of Keima, I was pleasantly surprised it's Chris Patton who'll be a guest at an anime convention I'm helping put together for it's 3rd year in 2013 (but more about that convention later). Overall TWGOK is a great ride in hilarity about a gaming otaku. And there aren't very many good anime out there about otaku, let alone ones that can make it to a second season and have some spin offs and prequels.

Type: Light novel adaptation
Genre(s): Comedy; Romance; Harem; Shounen; Super natural
# of Episodes: 12
With some familiar faces and new ones joining this seasons cast of characters Keima and Elsie continue the hunt for lose souls all while Keima deals with the trouble of having to romance real life girls when he'd rather being God of Games like he always has been. Who has time for the real world when virtual ones are so much better?


[AOW] Genshiken (10/28-11/3/2012) [#67]

Image © Palm Studio

The Genshiken manga recently (well about a year ago) started receiving new chapters with a new cast of characters and the return of old ones. Because of this, I have decided to feature the anime (which sadly was never a real accurate adaptation of the manga in the first place but it is still a fun series worth watching for otaku's of all types). I don't remember the anime being nearly as good as the manga, but that could just be due to the anime not adapting the whole series =/ Eh, oh well.

Type: Manga adaptation
Genre(s): comedy, otaku, slice of life
# of Episodes: 24
This is the story of college freshman Kanji Sasahara and his fellow members of the college club he joins, The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture (aka Genshiken), as he goes shopping for doujinshi, attends conventions and slowly but surely makes his way down the road to fandom. [ANN]


Limit vol.1

LIMIT vol.1
Creator: Keiko Suenobu
Publisher: Vertical
Release Date: Oct. 2012
Price: US $10.95 / $11.95 CAN
Length: 192pgs

The premise behind Limit isn't all that exciting or unique- a group of second year high school students are on their way for a trip known as "Exchange Camp" when the bus driver happens to lose consciousness, thus causing the bus to crash into the middle of some forest looking area. Most of the students (which oddly this manga seems to be missing any interaction with male students, despite them being there) end up dead. The few that do remain (at least that were found in the first volume of this manga) meet up and end up forming some weird patriarchal system because of one student in particular who was seemingly indirectly bullied throughout that year of school.

You would think a manga about a bus crashing could end up being more exciting. Maybe it's the shoujo format and the theme of bullying that is suppose to be explored here... but this manga seems to be falling flat on it's face. I wasn't thrilled by any of the characters- especially the main "villian" Arisa who was seemingly forced into the villain position by the manga artist just because this manga is suppose to explore the topic of "high school bullying". Most painful of all in this manga was the inclusion of a scyth... since when did high school students ever use scyths when on a school trip!?

I can't in good consciousness recommend this manga. It's plain, borring and painful to read. There isn't anything new here and the characters are just so bland. I do feel like I wasted $11 purchasing this... maybe volume two will be better.

[AOW] Negima!? (10/21-27/2012) [#66]

Image © Shaft

Don't worry my nettaversers, I know you must be in awe of that chupacabra; especially since Asuna has created the perfect rendition of one for her "Chupa Club" series of shirts- but the Chupa Club is here for a reason!! To hunt down a chupacabra of Asuna's very own... or is it really a cover for Sensei Negima being a magician?

Studio Shaft really got me with this one. Their, as I like to call it, "sensual" style of animating really suits many scenes of this series. I particularly LOVE the way Asuna's twintails create their own emoticoms such as being the shape of a heart in order to enhance her emotions.

 Negima!? isn't an exact adaptation of the manga of the same name; it's actually an alternate retelling of the series and while not perfect, it is well worth watching (as long as you know not to expect an amazing story that ties up all holes by the end of the two seasons).

Type: Alternate Retelling of Manga
Genre(s): School life, magic, fantasy, drama, comedy
# of Episodes: 26
Wizard Negi Springfield may be a boy, but he has a man-sized job to do! Fresh from the Academy of Magic, Negi continues his training as an instructor at Mahora Academy in Japan. But before he can get his Masters in magic, the 31 schoolgirls of Class 3-A are gonna keep him up all night cramming for a final exam in will power. Temptation aside, Negi has more on his syllabus than flirting and spells. Darkness is closing in, and Negi is gonna need help from his lovely student bodies to drive the ghouls from their school. These girls want to prove that they're the best in class, and extra credit is available to the cuties that aren't afraid of after-hours phantom fighting! [MAL]


[AOW] Claymore (10/14-20/2012) [#65]

image copyright goes out to Madhouse

I'm only featuring Claymore because I plan to try and make an Alicia cosplay for a convention in 2013. Instead of having to read the manga which is still going I thought why not just try and watch the anime which is much shorter and a good way to introduce myself more into the series. And my friend is a huge fan of this series so I'd like to know why.

Type: manga adaptation
Genre(s): Dark fantasy, action, drama
# of Episodes: 26
The series is set on a fictional medieveil island where humans are plagued by Yoma; humanoid shape-shifters that feed on humans. A Mysterious group, known as The Organization, creates human-Yoma hybrids to kill Yoma for a fee. These female warriors wear Roman army-like uniforms. The public refer to them as "Claymores" alluding to their Claymore swords, or "silver-eyes witchers" due to their silver eyes.


[AOW] FMA: Brotherhood & Star of Milos (10/7-13/2012) [#64]

Image copyright goes out to BONES

I remember being excited every Saturday to watch the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime on TV. While that series was not canon (it didn't follow the manga for the most part, especially in regards to how the humunculi were created), it still retained a fairly big following even to this day. I thoroughly enjoyed the original  and was told that it did not compare to the remake, Brotherhood. Brotherhood is a more mature version of the anime; this time being based on the manga (well, more of it than the original was based on). When people say the original doesn't compare, they mean it! There's way more story behind how the humunculi were created, how Ed/Al are tied into this whole alchemy mess and even a whole lot more characters (which for the most part all are like able despite being "good" or "evil"). If you watched the original and like it, I highly suggest giving Brotherhood a watch as well!

Oh, and in regards to the movie (Star of Milos) I haven't seen all of it yet. As of posting this, I'm on episode 48/64 of Brotherhood. After finishing the anime, I plan on giving the second movie a watch but I was told the movie is not canon soooo my hopes aren't as high for it being as good as the anime has been thus far.

Best part about this series is that FUNimation has it streaming (for free and dubbed in English or subbed if you so prefer) online and on Netflix! The only downside to Netflix is only 39 episodes of the 64 are on there (well, at the time of posting this), so you will at some point have to switch to FUNi's website (which is what I had to do).

OH, and last thing! This time around I'm writing the summaries myself (well not the Milos one because I haven't seen the movie). Usually I take them from ANN or Wiki, but I've decided in order to make this articles more personal and cool that making my own summaries is  a good way to do that.

~FMA: Brotherhood~

~FMA: Movie- Sacred Star of Milos~

Type: Manga adaptation
(the movie is a non-canon side story)
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Sci-fi
# of Episodes: 64 + 4 OVA


~FMA: Brotherhood~
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers who were seemingly abandoned as children. One day their mother passes away from an incurable disease  Stricken with grief and loneliness, the two boys perform a taboo in the alchemy world known as human transmutation; in the process Edward lost an arm and leg while his brother Alphonse lost his entire body. In order to gain their bodies back, Edward becomes a state alchemist in order to find out how to make a philosophers stone. What the boys don't know is making such a stone could cost them more than they would ever know....

~FMA: Sacred Star of Milos~


[AOW] Rune Soldier (9/30-10/6/2012) [#63]

Image copyright goes out to J.C.Staff

One can never go wrong with a classic adventure series!
I myself have been on an older anime kick lately which started with Those Who Hunt Elves, then went to Arjuna and now I'm on Rune Soldier (which in the past I only was able to manage viewing the first two disks when my parents used to get DVDs in the mail via Blockbuster Online... they have since switched to Netflix which is amazing for anime). This is all thanks to a local shop -Robo Gato- which has been selling complete series for $5. Yup, I've gotten just over 65 episodes of anime for only $15.

Type: Novel adaptation
Genre(s): Adventure, Magic, Comedy, Fantasy 
# of Episodes: 24

Synopsis [from ANN]:
Louie is a mage student of the mage academy, and adoptive son of the director. But still, he sucks at magic. Instead, he has abilities for drinking, flirting and fighting in taverns. One day, he meets a party of girls (a priestess, a warrior and a thief) looking for a mage to join them to open a ruin entrance, but they absolutely rejects him due to his pathetic magic skills. But he refuses to be rejected, and then he tries to join them by force, only to interrupting a sacred ritual of Melissa (the priestess), revealing Louie as her master. Now, as the will of god Miley says, they have no choice but to accept them, and here begins the whole new adventure for this "mage".
Louie, a brawny student at the mages' guild, is reluctantly accepted by three girls (Merrill (thief), Genie (fighter), and Melissa (priestess)) as a companion for their adventuring party. As the foursome explore ruins, battle dark creatures, and make new friends, they also uncover a sinister plot within the kingdom.


[AOW] Steins;GATE (9/23-29/2012)

I'm not sure who made the image so I have no idea where the copyright goes...

I'd seen about 2 episodes of this show when it first aired in Japan (or well soon after since I had to wait for subs to be released). The only reason I even watched those was because I'm a HUGE fan of Chaos;HEAD which is by the same people. Unfortunantly I was also watching about 5 other shows at the time and dropped a few due to being busy... so I've only recently gotten back to trying to finish Steins;GATE but this time I'm watching the FUNimation dub. So far, I am LOVING the dub! The feel of this show carries over really well thanks to the voices that were chosen to portray the characters.

Runtime: 24 min/ep
# of Episodes: 25
Type: Adaptation of Xbox 360 game
Rating: Teen
Rintaro Okabe is a self-proclaimed "mad scientist" who believes that an international scientific organization named SERN is conspiring to reshape the world according to it's own interests. He and his friend Itaru Hashida inadvertently create a gadget able to send messages to the past. The discovery and experimentation of this instrument become the catalyst of fundamental alterations to the present.


[GIS] The different Grades of Gundam

Gundam model kits are broken down into different "grades" and scales. These grades usually indicate how detailed and/or complicated the kit can be with a range of takes two minuets to build to ones that can take days. Even though a kit is of a higher grade, that doesn't necessarily mean it'll be harder. I've built high grade kits in a matter of a few hours and others that take a lot longer (for example a HG 0 Gundam kit only took me only a few hours to build while a kit of the same grade but for Unicorn Destroy Mode took me much longer).  The difficulty honestly depends mainly on the mobile suit the kit is based on. 

The Unicorn Gundam is a much more complicated and detailed suit than many found in the Gundam universe, and this is because the suit itself has several modes- Unicorn and Destroy. Destory mode has even made already complicated Master Grade kits even more complicated due to adding an extra frame (the red parts you see are a lot of the time a whole new layer that has to be built. Heck, I've even built an SD kit that had this red frame). Not only is the Unicorn itself a very complicated suit, so are several others from the series such as the Kshatriya  and Sinanju. Due to these designs being fairly detailed and complicated, the kits based on these suits (despite the scale and grade) tend to break the mold of the grades I'll be explaining to you today but out of all the kits I've built (I'll have to make a list one day) ones from the Unicorn OVA series have proven time and time again to be my favorite (I've built several Unicorn kits already and have 2 master grades I need to get around to building one day...).... even though those legs and hip are a pain to keep balanced. Some of my kits (mainly the SD Unicorn) tend to lose legs and other parts just from being breathed on.

I won't be including some of the other grades that have much less in the series such as jumbo and mega >.< I might do a smaller GIS side entry or something one day about these since I have seen a few mega grades in person.

Also there is a very interesting grade known as SD or "super deformed" that instead of including here I will dedicate an entire entry to due to this scale being very good for beginners.

In order to talk about grades of kits, I might as well start with kits that usually don't have a grade. These are often not seen in actual specialty stores (this is based on my experience) and have to be ordered online. These kits usually don't have an accurate scale and the details are very limited. I myself have built two no grade kits, one being of Red Frame which is my 3rd favorite kit to build (thanks to my friend Ron who's known locally as Box Gundam for buying the kit for me a few years back for my birthday) and the other being from Gundam 00.
You can find a nice selection of no grade kits here and here/here. I personally would recommend the second two links as I have liked Robots4Less on Facebook. They restock often; so if a kit is sold out within a week or so they'll most likely have that kit again. No grade kits are ones that I like to refer to as "baby's first gundam" as they aren't hard to build at all, but if you're just starting yet have built any sort of model (cars, airplanes, worked on a train set, etc) then this will be no challenge at all to you. I'd actually recommend to most people to skip over building this grade unless you want something to practice detailing or painting on before painting an expensive kit (I'll talk more about detailing a gundam in an upcoming GIS entry). No grade kits also don't always have a scale.

I myself have not built many first grade kits, so my knowledge on these are very limited. All I really know is that these are a bit more detailed than no grades, and the name was coined to show the difference from NG kits. As technology got better so did the ability of Gundam kits to have more detail and be snap together kits rather than ones that required glue. You can still buy some first grade kits on the web via sits such as this.
Zaku II is the only first grade kit I've build. The pieces were all an orangish red color, so painting is necessary if you want to get the actual look of a Zaku II. Instead of doing the actual colors I did a custom paint job which you can see below.

HG kits are possibly the most common grade that can be found anywhere- either at local shops or online. This is mainly due to the amount of detail these kits can have, and the prices are very affordable. I recently picked up a Farsia HG kit due to wanting more "female" gundam (well, ones piloted by females). As of working on this article I haven't really gotten around to building it but from looking at the runners (I'll go over some terminology one day in a GIS entry, but runners are what the pieces are attached to before you gut them off to put together in a specific order) the kit looks fairly easy to build.  If you're building a kit for the first time, high grade is a good scale to go with especially if you pick up a kit from 00 Gundam or Gundam AGE (which the Farsia kit is from). HG kits are usually in a 1/144 or 1/100 scale meaning the kit is 1/144th of the size that a real life Gundam would be. They are also snap together kits that do not require glue.
There are not many real grade kits on the market, and I have yet to build one (though I really would love to get my hands on a RG RX-78-2). There aren't many of these kits because the line started in 2010 with only an average of 1-2 kits in the line being released each year. These kits are very detailed (even surpassing many MG kits which I'll go over soon in this post) and include flexible inner frames much like the bones of a human body. This allows for additional posability the other grades could not grant the kits to have.
These kits are not for beginners and should not be your go to kit even when you are more experienced at building. If introducing a friend to building please do not tell them to go buy a real grade kit. These kits are usually in a 1/144 scale. These kits are also fairly priced considering the amount of detail they tend to have.

I've built a few master grades in my time, including Exia Gundam and Crossbone. Master grades aren't exactly easy to build and are very time consuming. I do recommend these for the more experienced gundam builder due to the nice amount of detail... but most aren't exactly cheap. In fact many run $75+. I was lucky enough to win a set of six last summer due to a Gundam Campaign gundam.info had been running. These kits are very detailed and snap together which means no glue is necessary. The scale from these range from 1/100.
I'm not really looking forward to building my MG Unicorn because I've heard it's a pain when trying to put on display. I used to have my friends on display in unicorn mode and I remember the legs being very unstable with parts that often feel off for no apparent reason other than I happened to breath too hard. I'm a big fan of  gundam Unicorn, but I have built a HG and SD of the kit sooo I know the suit itself is very flawed when it comes to trying to put on display without limbs or parts falling off!

You want pricey? Well here's pricey!
This kit runs about $230 without shipping. EEESH! I still really want this due to my love of Red Frame but that is a lot of moola for something I have to assemble. These kits are pricey due to detail and extra articulation such as individual finger joints. According to Wikipedia, the kits can take years to develop because the PG line is also used to develop new ways of making the kits before implementing into earlier lines such as HG and MG.


[GIS] What is a "Gundam"?

The simple answer to this question would be "Gundam are giant robots that are piloted in some sort of fashion." but that answer doesn't really tell you much, especially if you aren't even familiar with the American counter part that is Transformers. Another way to answer this question would be "a mechanical, walking vehicle that is similar to the shape of a human" (even though there are some Gundam that have more of an animalistic shape). Gundam them selves are usually referred to as "mobile suits" and are inspired by power armors from the American novel Starship Troopers [thank you wiki]. 

You might be familiar with a little show that used to play on Cartoon Network called Megas XLR. While not the best example of an "american gundam like series" (in fact, this follows more of the format that Macross does considering the aliens versus humans and all)  it is one that from my experience a lot of the 90s cartoon watching generation have seen. While there are also no model kits that I know of from this series, and while the series itself doesn't really follow the same format as Gundam does (heck, Megas XLR focuses more on fighting an alien race rather than fighting with humans who happen to just not live on Earth) it's easier to tell people Gundam is similar to Megas XLR because it is a bit more Gundam like than Transformers because there IS  a human pilot rather than an intelligent life form that happens to take on the form of a giant robot.

I wouldn't mind fighting off aliens in a giant robot.

Want to know something interesting? The Gundam anime actually could be considered a flop- well, pre-model kit introduction. In Japan the anime (I'm of course referring to the first Gundam series, not any of the recent ones) was actually cancelled. Originally intended to be 52 episodes, the show ended at 43. It wasn't until Bandai started released kits based on the mecha designs that the show actually became popular.

Cartoon Network has played a few Gundam series over time most notably Gundam Wing and Gundam SEED. Oh, and lets not forget about that lovely little gem us Gundam fans love to hate- SD Gundam. You may have also seen Gundam 00 on Sci-fi (back before it got changed to SyFy.... sigh). Overall, Gundam has made it's way to American audiences. 

Now, there is so much more I could go into Gundam wise even just to explain the different aspects such as manga and anime that compile what is modern day Gundam, but I'll spread those out into different entries. Thank you for reading the first part of what I'm calling GIS- Gundam Info Series (well tech the second but I'll be redoing the supplies part).