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Tales of Vesperia
Tales of Vesperia
Role-Playing
I finally got done playing Tales Of Vesperia, but I'm not completely done. There's an extra dungeon you can play through at the end of the game if you do a specific side quest during the regular game play through. I've never played a Tales Of game that I didn't like yet and this one was no exception.
 I genuinely liked the main character Yuri because he's not a perfect hero. He isn't purely good, but he's not necessarily evil either. It's a matter of he's had to make the hard decisions that others around him are not willing to make, but in the end he's always stayed true to himself and his ideals. I think a lot of the reason why that scenario worked is because of the story line with Yuri's best friend Flynn. Flynn is the other side of the coin, walking a different path, but ultimately the goal to try and make the world a better place is similar.
 The idea of blastia technology is interesting and they do explain how it came to be and what it is used for as the game and story progress. It also explains the reasons behind how the empire that controls it came to exist which I thought that the developers did a pretty good job of intertwining with the main story line.
 You meet more characters along the way on this adventure and they all have pretty decent back stories. I myself liked Raven's and Judith's in particular. There are of course, the usual skits during game play, but they never get tedious. In fact, some of them are amusing with jokes that are actually funny and add a little more depth to the story and the characters themselves. The anime cut scenes are very well done and great to watch. The musical soundtrack not only is beautiful, but fits well with the various battles and pivotal plot points throughout the story.
 There are one or two boss battles that can be a little frustrating because of certain mystic artes attacks, but once you get through them you feel a sense of accomplishment for having won. Of course, if you get too frustrated you do have the option of changing the difficulty level to easy without being penalized for it which is a nice perk. With a myriad of fun extra side quests like getting cafe costumes for all the characters or the cute disguise costumes for the female characters in your party, you get a pleasant break from level grinding and the main story. Overall, the game is a good time and fun to play. Even level grinding in this particular RPG is enjoyable because of a decent battle system, and beautifully designed scenery and enemies. Now, I'm going to get back to playing this extra dungeon I've won. As for all of you, I suggest you pick up Tales Of Vesperia for the Xbox 360 and give it a try. I am sure you will have as much fun as I did playing it.
  
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Fred (539 KP) rated Baki in TV

Aug 29, 2019  
Baki
Baki
2018 | Action, Animation, Drama
5
5.0 (1 Ratings)
TV Show Rating
Super-violent fighting "action"
I've never seen the original Baki the Grappler series. But on a recommendation from a friend, I decided to watch this one, which is apparently a sequel to the other. Although I feel you don't need to have watched the original, I feel there were a few parts in this one that would have had more meaning if I had seen the original.

Anyway, the story is about 17 year old Baki Hanma. A martial artist, who won an underground tournament, who is now targeted by 5 death-row inmates. Other members of the underground tournament take Baki's side to fight against them. That's pretty much it.

Each character seems to have a unique fighting style or ability & each character has their own special look. But no matter the look, these characters are ugly. I mean real ugly. They may be the most grotesque characters I've ever seen on film. Almost every one has a ridiculously unrealistic over-muscular body. It's as if a 10 year old drew a bodybuilder. Everyone's hands look like balloons, with marbles as knuckles. Everyone's feet look like a rock with tiny grapes as toes. Hideous faces & disturbing eyes. Even Baki, who is supposed to be good looking, looks overly glam. Again, like a 10 year old's drawing. As for the animation, it's not very good. Most of the show is two characters facing each other & talking crap to each other before finally, someone punches or kicks & then it's just a still shot of them hitting the other with a white streak, faking movement. In the cases where we actually see them moving, the animation jarringly switches to the horrible hand-drawn CGI animation that I can't stand.

As I mentioned, each character has their own style of fighting. Whether it's karate or judo or hidden weapons or weapons hidden inside the body, etc... So, there's lots of variety. The show is for mature audiences due to the gore (lots of dismemberment, eye popping, etc...) & nudity. So, no kids, ok?

But here's the main problem I have. I don't care about the characters. I don't care about Baki. In fact, if you pay attention, he's not in most of the series. And when he is, most of the time he doesn't do anything. This show also has one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes I've ever seen & that his sex scene. He's never had sex before & we get to hear his thoughts. It's almost like the writer never had sex either. I was laughing out loud.

So, why did I watch? Well, so I had a new anime to talk about with my friend. And although I said I don't care about the characters, I still want to see what happens. I would say the show is geared towards men, as there is only one female character & she's played like a stereo-typical damsel in distress. I have 3 episodes left to watch & no sign of a female fighter. I say give it a shot if you want some mindless ass-kicking fluff.
  
Interesting premise (3 more)
Tatsuya
Mystery surrounding the Shiba siblings
Most of the side-characters
Information dumps (3 more)
General editing mistakes
Miyuki
Lack of male characters (that aren’t antagonists)
The Setup
The Irregular at Magic High School
Book by Tsutomu Sato
Review by Rip Major

The Irregular at Magic High School is about siblings Tatsuya and Miyuki and their experiences at First High. The school is split into two main groups, the Blooms, who are gifted with the ability to use and control magic, and Weeds, who can use magic, but aren’t as strong with it as the Blooms are. Miyuki, who is a prodigy with magic and has the brains to back it up, is placed with the Blooms. Tatsuya, on the other hand, is not as gifted with magic, so he is placed with the Weeds.


The plot is pretty anime-standard. Boy and girl go to a new school and participate in shenanigans. The majority of the book follows the day to day misadventures of Tatsuya and Miyuki as they deal with the fact that, while they are extremely close, they are essentially in different hierarchical classes. This culminates in Miyuki joining the Student Council and Tatsuya joining the Disciplinary Committee, even though both are reluctant about the whole thing.


Tatsuya is a very interesting character because he is constantly annoyed by his classmates and their shenanigans, most of which he gets drawn into. He seems like the type of character that would prefer to be in the background and be left to his own devices, but his status as main character simply won’t let him. It is actually quite amusing to read his inner monologue while things happen to and around him. He is actually quite smart, being able to work on CADs (the in-universe way to cast magic) with exceptional skill and speed. He is also a skilled martial artist, apparently knowing ninjutsu, or something similar. Additionally, he also has a very mechanical way of thinking, which includes shutting down parts of himself that would ordinarily be considered normal. For instance, there is a scene where he realizes his older classmate is arousing him, and he shuts it down. Basically, in a book where the POV changes often and usually without meaning, Tatsuya is a very interesting character to be in the head of.


Unfortunately, Miyuki isn’t nearly as interesting as her brother. She is beautiful, smart, and gifted; all of which makes her a little too perfect for me to really connect with. Her major flaw is that she has an unusual and uncomfortable obsession with her brother. Also, she just feels a lot flatter than most of the side characters. And I officially have nothing else to say about her.


In all honesty, most of what I found interesting about this book was certain aspects of Sato’s world-building, specifically the pseudo-science/magic marriage and how it is explained. I also like how mysterious the history of the siblings is. Very little about their relationships with their parents is revealed, or why they are living alone in their apartment. In fact, other than the basic setup of the plot and characteristics of the two, not much else is explored in this book. I am curious to see if the next book will reveal more.
  
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma
Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki, Yuki Morisaki | 2017 | Fiction & Poetry
9
9.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
The characters, which are well-developed, for the most part. (1 more)
The dishes, which I was surprised to learn have actually been tested before being put into the books.
There is quite a bit of fan-service, which I don't mind, but it's hard to imagine food so good that it causes people's clothing to shred and disappear (only mentally, not actually in front of others). (0 more)
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma (the series)
I have been reading Food Wars since volume 1 came out and now that book 20 has recently been released in the United States, I still enjoy this rather unique food-based manga.

The hero, Yukihira Soma, has been raised as the only child of a single father who runs a diner called Yukihira. One day, his father tells Soma that he has enrolled him in a culinary school and that he will be off helping friends for a while. Soma doesn't think much of this idea, but goes to take the test for Totsuki Teahouse Culinary Academy and settles into Polaris Dormitory, and so the story begins.

Soma has quirks, and lots of them. You know he's getting serious when he whips his headband off his wrist and dons it and his apron (which I've not figured out yet where he keeps that). He has no end of confidence, and often says the first thing that comes to his mind, which gets him in trouble a lot of the time. He's determined to be the top student at the academy so that he can beat his dad eventually in a food competition, of which he's lost several during his childhood. Despite this, he is eager to learn new things and never gives up. He is loyal to his friends and has a strong sense of justice.

Totsuki Teahouse Culinary Academy isn't exactly the most normal school anyway. It is a fact that over 90% or more of the students either get expelled, fail out, or drop out, and the idea behind the academy is that most of the students are there merely to "polish" the students who make it through the final year of high school. It is run not only by Dean Nakiri, but by the Council of Ten, who are the top ten students at the school. Disputes between the students are settled by Shokugeki, which have very strict rules.

I think my favorite story arc is the one with the Fall Classic (books 6-13), where 100 selected first year high school students compete to see who is the best. The winners usually go on to become part of the Council of Ten. Many things happen in this arc, from Soma and Megumi (a girl from Polaris, who learns a lot about cooking and confidence from Soma) learning about curry and spices, to Soma's dad coming for a visit, to a copycat chef who wins other students' favorite cutlery from them in Shokugeki, to the surprise finish of the Classic under the light of the full moon.

I would definitely recommend this manga series if you enjoyed other food series such as Yakitate!! Japan. It's a lot of fun and drama all wrapped up in a tasty bow. The manga series is still on-going, with an anime which has just entered its third season.
  
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Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
2019 | Action, Romance
Don’t let the “big anime eyes” or unusual title fool you into thinking this will be a lame film. Yes, this movie is based off a manga you’ve probably never heard of. Yes, it is easy to dismiss this film as something that will bomb like last year’s Mortal Engines. But if you place your faith in director Robert Rodriguez and writer/producer James Cameron, you will be treated to a surprisingly solid narrative and fast paced visual spectacle that is worth the price of admission to view in the theater.

The biggest praise I can give to Alita: Battle Angel is that the visually stunning world they create on screen feels “lived in” and real. I found it easy to accept and understand the rules of that world they built and explained throughout film. And while we are not given a full history of their world, we are given enough explanation to understand how or why something existed in their world. This gives us the opportunity to focus on the story of “self-discovery” that Alita ultimately is.

Rosa Salazar motion capture performance of Alita is excellent. Not only in movement but in emotionally delivery. You get the real sense of discovery with this amazing world that Alita is being exposed to. Additionally, as she begins to become more self-aware of who she is, you can understand the emotion and she struggles with love, trust and obligation. Furthermore, from a technical standpoint, by the end of the movie, I was not thinking of Alita being something that is motion captured and instead just accepted her as part of this onscreen world they delivered. This is really something that becomes make or break with this film for some people and it’s easy to dismiss it based on the trailers. However in context of the film, it works and does a good job drawing you in.

In addition to Alita, we are given strong performances from the ensemble cast of characters in the film. Christoph Waltz play’s Alita surrogate father Dr. Dyson Ido, Keean Johnson as the street smart and resourceful Hugo, Mahershala Ali as the gangster type gate keeper Vector, Jennifer Connelly as the morally ambiguous goal focused scientist and Ed Skrein as the cocky bounty hunter. Each of these characters play their roles well and help usher in the different levels of the society they live in. Perhaps the once complaint I have of this film is that the pacing of this film is so fast that we miss an opportunity to obtain a bit more backstory from some of these characters. It is not a big loss, but it makes you wonder if this film would have been better served as a 10 episode Netflix series or something of that nature.

In the end, I found myself enjoying this film more than I expected I would. Is it a perfect film? No. Nor does it invoke emotionally deep existential thought that the manga it is based on provides. But it does tell a sold story of self-discovery in a visually stunning and fully realized world. It is fun, fast paced and something that should be seen in the theaters. And if possible, do yourself a favor and watch it in 3D. This film has some of the best 3D effects since Avatar. The 3D doesn’t feel like an afterthought or gimmicky, but instead works to enhance the on screen world.