Sunday, October 22, 2017

One Piece Volume 1, Chapter 3 manga review


Title: Enter Zolo - Pirate Hunter

Author/Artist: Eiichiro Oda


What Happens:

Luffy and Koby make it Naval Base Town thanks to Koby's ability to navigate. When in town they soon notice that the mention of both Zolo and the Marines, especially Captain Morgan, scare the people there.

Zolo is found in the Navy yard tied up. A young girl shows up to feed him rice balls but Helmeppo, the son of Captain Morgan, shows up and stops her. He has her literally thrown out of the yard then mocks Zolo. The promise that Zolo will be set free after a month tied up in the ship yard is brought up before Helmeppo leaves.

Luffy then visits Zolo to tell him that he is looking for crew members. Zolo flat refuses to become a pirate. He does ask for Luffy to give him the rice balls to eat.

Later in town the girl tells Luffy and Koby the story of why Zolo was imprisoned. He was defending her after dogs that Helmeppo kept went to attack her. Helmeppo though went and had Zolo imprisoned for it.

Soon after the story Helmeppo shows up boasting about lying to Zolo and will have him executed in a few days. Luffy punches him after hearing that then proclaims that he definitely wants Zolo to join his crew.


Why it matters:

The biggest take aways from this chapter in the long run are the characters introduced, with Zolo of course being the main one as despite his initial protests he is the first to officially join Luffy's crew.

Captain Morgan is the main villain of this arc but becomes a more like a footnote later. Helmeppo in contrast becomes a more prominent character in a way I do not think anyone could have guessed from his debut in this chapter.

This story also introduces the fact that the Marines are not always the good guys by default. This helps in the larger story to know that there is no one side that can be considered the good guys by default, outside of Luffy and his crew of course.


Review:

Even though the length of the chapter is not much more than the previous one there is a feeling that there is much more happening in this one. Though unlike the previous chapter this is only the first part of a multi-chapter story so it can take time to put small moments in it to flesh out characters which is a part of why this chapter feels like there is more to it. That and this plot is a bit more complex than Koby's which helps with that as well.

Being allowed to be more complex with its stories and characters already catapults this story well beyond the previous one. Though it is still rather simple overall so Zoro comes off as a good guy, though with some rough edges, and the villain we meet this chapter, Helmeppo, is undeniably a terrible person. But being just an introduction chapter everything is set up well and we even have the plot moving forward with Luffy landing that blow on Helmeppo at the end.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It's starting to look like the time of the year Johnny's wants to make fans broke.

The end of the year in Japan means several things, one of them is that new releases start piling up as the spending around that time increases. Which means for me Johnny's is asking me to hand over no small amount of change as Kis-My-Ft2 and the group's sub-unit Busaiku have new releases coming out.

First off it is a new single from Kis-My-Ft2 being released November 29th, titled Akai Kajitsu. It comes in the usual three versions, the two LEs coming with a bonus DVD each and the RE having bonus tracks not on the other two editions.



Next Busaiku is finally getting their album released on December 13th. The album is titled Busaiku no, wa! and will also come in three editions, two LEs and one RE. The LEs come with DVDs, one a music video collection with the other being a documentary of the sub-unit from the release of their last single Michishirube.



Even though my interest in Johnny's in general has been waning for some time Kisumai is group that I still find myself unable to pass up on. I love their dance tracks and as long as they keep releasing them than I am staying a fan of the group. I am relieved to have a new single coming out for them as it will be almost half a year from the release of their previous single, so I was starting to worry if they were being forgotten.


Busaiku is just a lot of fun as it is basically idols making fun of idols and as long as that concept remains for the sub-unit then I can continue to enjoy them. So I am most curious to how this album is going to turn out. Especially since it was announced quite some time ago, with Nakai Masahiro being the producer of it. But that was before the mess that happened that ended SMAP. So I am quite curious if Nakai is still producing this or if this is just being released because they had it, or at least part of it ,and decided not to waste it and put out what they had.

Either way I plan on picking up both and hopefully both will be more hits for me to enjoy and not feel like I have to wait for the next release to get those.

Monday, October 9, 2017

One Piece Volume 1, Chapter 2 manga review


Title: They Call Him "Strawhat Luffy"
Author/Artist: Eiichiro Oda


What Happens:

Luffy's journey looks like it will be a short one as he ends up getting sucked into a whirlpool. By pure luck he makes it out and ends up running into the Alvida pirates, including a boy named Koby.

Luffy quickly learns that Koby is only a member of Alvida pirates by unfortunate circumstance and he lacks the courage to escape. Luffy shares his dream to become the Pirate King which Koby believes is impossible. But Luffy's determination sparks some hope in Koby confesses of his dream to join the Navy/Marines then vows to take Alvida in himself.

Alvida happens to be close and overhears. She tries to bully him back into place but strengthened from his talk with Luffy Koby stands up to her. When she attacks him Luffy steps in and easily defeats her then demands a dinghy from the crew so he and Koby can leave.

As Koby and Luffy sail off to the next port Luffy decides that that he wants to check out the feared pirate hunter Roronoa Zolo to see if he wants to ask him to join the crew.


Why It Matters:

One of the themes One Piece is centered around is, "Follow your dreams with all you have." This is the first story that gets brought up but it will be far from the last.

This story follows what becomes the usual story formula for the series. It boils down to Luffy and/or his crew end up running into someone that is in trouble and/or is stuck in a bad situation and through misadventures help them out.

This chapter also helps illustrate the kind of pull Luffy has on others where his determination in his dream inspires others to steel their own resolves. Like the rest that I have covered though it is breezed over here but since it is a recurring theme it will come back again and again with various levels of impact.

We have the first mention of the pirate hunter Roronoa Zolo in this chapter which is set up for the next but there are some other bits of information dropped in this chapter that the story will get to further on. The other two big takeaways is the mention of the King of the Pirates title and the Grand Line. This chapter gives a brief rundown of what they are and both will be expanded on in upcoming chapters as we continue these introduction arcs for the series.


Review:

This chapter is one that is a bit of a miss for me. It does have some strong moments as setting up themes as well as introducing information that will be used for future story lines. In fact that lore to me is the most interested aspect of the chapter. Though it probably comes down to the fact that I have re-read this series so many times that these early chapters fail to stand out when compared to some of the epic story lines that come later.

Yet this is a good chapter to start picking up on the common themes of the series and just overall as an introduction to much that will be expanded upon going forward. If you are still fresh to the series than this is one of the more important chapters and it is no surprise that the anime adaption started with it instead of the actual first chapter.

Monday, October 2, 2017

One Piece Volume 1, Chapter 1 manga review


Title: Romance Dawn
Author/Artist: Eiichiro Oda

What Happens:

We start off with a quick exposition of Gold Rogers execution which kicked off the Pirate Age.

Then the story makes a time jump to introduce us to Monkey D. Luffy, a young boy who wants to join Shanks' pirate crew. Shanks and his crew treat him like the kid he is to his dismay. A group of mountain bandits come to town and try to pick a fight with Shanks and his crew. They do not fall for the taunts and the bandits leave.

Luffy gets angry at Shanks and his crew for not fighting the bandits, thinking that they were showing weakness. As he mopes he ends up eating a Devil Fruit and gains the ability to stretch his body but loses the ability to swim.

While Shanks and his crew are off on the sea Luffy gets into a fight with the mountain bandits, putting himself in danger. Shanks and crew return to this and the leader of the bandits kidnaps Luffy to try to make a getaway when the pirates prove they are not the push overs he thought them to be.

The bandit takes Luffy out on the water and Shanks follows. On the water the bandit finds out there is something else to worry about as a sea monster appears. It eats the bandit but Shanks stops it from getting Luffy as well by staring it down. In the process though he does end up losing an arm.

As Shanks and his crew head off to sea a few days later Luffy goes to see them off. Luffy tells Shanks that he is fine with not joining his crew as he will gather his own when he heads out to be a pirate himself when he is older. Shanks gives him his hat and asks Luffy to return it to him when they meet again on the sea.

We then get a time skip of ten years as Luffy heads out on his journey. He starts it off by defeating the sea monster and the chapter ends as Luffy's journey begins.

Why It Matters:

The way Shanks handles the mountain bandits is something to take note of as it is a theme that can be seen throughout the series. And that is that there is a strength to not fighting. Especially if it is over something that is inconsequential and could cause problems for others.

We get the first use of the Haki power in the series as Shanks uses it against the sea monster. Haki does not get brought up for some time but it is nice to see it being tied back to something so early on in the story.

Review:

This chapter is not Oda's first take on Luffy's origin as he had an earlier version that was published as a one-shot before getting the green light to make One Piece into a Weekly Shonen Jump series. There are massive differences between the two but you can see where some of the ideas from that earlier take is worked into this version while other elements are used in some of the other early stories in the series.

That said I do prefer this version of Romance Dawn, even though it mostly sticks to focusing on the past to explain how Luffy ended up with his powers. But it lays out the groundwork and tone of the series well and lets the reader see Luffy's motivation instead of just telling us, which is always a sign of good story telling.

As a lover of character driven stories this introduction chapter hits all the right buttons for me. It gets the reader to become invested in Luffy as we follow him grow with this experience and give us a clear understandable reason for wanting to go out and become a pirate.

Honestly if you feel nothing while reading this chapter than it is probably a sign that the series may not be for you. If you are at least slightly interested in seeing what happens next then I would recommend sticking around for a few volumes as the series. This is a nice little start to a grand adventure.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

One Piece manga reviews

As I have been thinking about the direction of my blog I keep coming back to the fact that I would like to do reviews of the media I enjoy. One of my favorite series is of course One Piece so it is set to be the first that I want to start with.

That said I will also be making the reviews for One Piece a little different than most other reviews I will be doing. This is mostly because I have read and re-read the series several times and each time I find myself taking note of things in the earlier chapters that are brought up in later ones. This is one of the things I love about the series and since reviewing this series is more an expression of my love for it I feel it is only fitting to highlight that as a feature.

Or to sum up these reviews are going to be spoiler friendly so if you want to avoid them these reviews are not for you. If you are interested in viewing the series through the lens of someone who is reading them to find these little hints of things to come later than you found the right reviews.

After I get through the first volume I will put up a page to be used as a directory for all the reviews to make it easier to navigate. No log pose needed.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Japan's Queen of Hip-Pop to retire

While the news came out yesterday I really can only start to accept it now. I may not stan Amuro Namie as I do Utada Hikaru but she is one of my favorite Japanese pop stars. So thinking that I only have one more new album to look forward to is rather heartbreaking.


To sum it up, Namie announced in a letter to her fans that she plans to retire September 16th of 2018. (Arama article) That date will be the 25th anniversary of her debut. Until then she is still going to tour like usual and release one last album.

I cannot fault her for wanting to retire. She has been in the industry since she was a teenager and over half her life already so this is hardly something she decided on a whim. And deciding to end it on her 25th anniversary seems like a nice end cap to this chapter in her life. Her legacy is set in place and she is not going to be forgotten anytime soon and will likely remain an inspiration for plenty of up and coming artists for many years to come.

That all said I am going to miss looking forward to new material from Namie. Yet there is so much out there I can enjoy and catch up on that she will still be on heavy rotation in my usual playlists. And until September 16th comes I am going to enjoy all I can of her new material and hope international fans are able to be some part of her farewell on that date.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hikki hype building

I do not write enough about Utada Hikaru for how much I love her and her music. Hikki was the artist that was the J-pop artist that got be into J-pop after anisongs worked as a bridge to it. And with the release of the latest digital singles for her upcoming album coming up I am reminded how much I love her music.


So far there have been two songs released, Oozora de Daikishimete and Forevermore. Honestly I love them both but for different reasons. Forevermore is the more catchy of the two with a strong hook, not to mention a lovely music video. But Oozora de Daikishimete is a strong song itself that takes melancholy lyrics and pairs it with upbeat music that adds a level of bittersweet-ness to it.

These songs are making me feel so hyped about her upcoming album. I loved Fantome and from the sounds of it I am going to love this upcoming as well. Even though I am not completely over the disbelief that we are getting new music from her so soon after that album.