Wednesday, October 26, 2016

[PROMO POST] The Cycle of the Six Moons: The Last Winter Moon Trailer Reveal!





The Last Winter Moon (The Cycle of the Six Moons #3) 


Genre: YA Fantasy 

Release Date: November 11th 2016


The Goddess of Starrs has vanished… 

Arriscyal has fallen… 

Gediyon is missing… 

Dreana holds the answers to everyone’s pasts…
When Michelle returns to Starrs, the world is in chaos. No one knows who to trust, and even faith in their Goddess has dwindled. Michelle must reveal the truth of the Cycle; only then can she hope to unite everyone.
The Sixth Moon looms overhead. The end of the Cycle is nigh. Michelle and Jayse must stop it once and for all.




Fifteen-year-old Michelle saves the world on a daily basis…with her trusty video game controller, of course! Naturally, she jumps at the chance to play an experimental virtual reality game.

The beautiful fantasy world of Starrs? Check. The power to mold matter? Check. No reset button? Wait, she didn’t sign up for this!

Turns out Starrs is really real, and to make matters worse, Michelle’s interference awakens the Cycle of the Six Moons, a series of devastating trials that will devour the universe.

Fighting the apocalypse was way easier when danger stayed on the other side of the screen, but Michelle finds a secret weapon in her new-found powers. She uses them to rescue the crown prince of a powerful magic kingdom from their sworn enemies, a technologically-advanced cult that strives to eradicate magical blood.

Michelle starts to fall for Prince Jayse, the only one who believes Michelle to be a savior rather than a curse. But not even video games could prepare her for what the cult has in store for them… 





Deciding last minute to stay in Starrs, Michelle continues her epic adventure as Goddess. After all, learning how to save the world sure beats a year of pre-calculus. With her friends by her side, Michelle travels to a city of scholars to learn the lore of the Cycle of the Six Moons.

At first, the exotic retreat turns romantic, as Michelle spends her free time exchanging sweet letters with the crown prince, Jayse. But, during her studies, Michelle learns something that drastically changes her game plan. Powerful blood must be spilled to end the Cycle…blood that only runs through her veins and the prince destined to fall in love with her.

During a celebration honoring their enlightenment, Michelle and Jayse are whisked off to a rogue city as trophies of a tournament, where only the strongest can claim a taste of their blood. Gallant as ever, their guardian, Gediyon, enters to prevent harm to his friends. Unfortunately for the contestants, the Cycle’s latest trial prevents everyone from waking from a cursed slumber…

******************

I'm pretty excited for book three, as I just recently finished up the second book, An Eclipsing Autumn! My GOSH, that story had a massive cliffhanger. But I'm gonna leave that up to the extended review of the series that I'm going to be posting in time for the third book itself!

All right, now that we have the description and my little statement out of the way, on to the fun part of this blog post: the trailers themselves!

******************



The Song of the Sea Angel: https://www.youtube.com/embed/f-qC6gL83fo

The Last Winter Moon Teaser 1 – https://www.youtube.com/embed/FoCAT9Hsuu8

The Last Winter Moon Teaser 2 - Beasts of the Mountain: https://www.youtube.com/embed/JlJIU48PQNA

The Last Winter Moon Teaser 3 - Magical Cheese Soup: https://www.youtube.com/embed/IRHyZ9ZBlrk

The Last Winter Moon Teaser 4 - Cruel Cold: https://www.youtube.com/embed/v1OvMjVtAR0

The Last Winter Moon Teaser 5 - The Coastal Lands of the Gifted: https://www.youtube.com/embed/k-ufeiAdhOQ



About the Author





Adelle Yeung is the author of The Cycle of the Six Moons trilogy, a young adult fantasy adventure.

She is also a voice-over artist who can’t go a day without a cup of tea. When she’s not writing or recording, she enjoys sewing costumes, baking sweets, and escaping on video game adventures. She lives in California with a cat that dreams of eating the pet bird.

She has provided script supervision for the independent animation, Shattered Heaven, and is head script editor and one of the co-writers for the upcoming game Fiona Frightening and the Wicked Wardrobe.





Author Links:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

[ANIMANIUS] Let's Tear Down SAO!


LET'S TEAR DOWN SAO!

I decided to fill in my time with a much older review that I had done.

Anyone that knows me as a person knows how I feel about the anime Sword Art Online.
And about 80% of the time, they know that I will either rip it down or try to convince why I just do not like anything relating to this series.

Note: This is not including season 2. I hear that it is better than the first season in terms of story consistency, but I likely will not ever watch it due to my strong distaste for the series as a whole.

PLOT


In the year 2022, virtual reality has progressed by leaps and bounds, and a massive online role-playing game called Sword Art Online (SAO) is launched. With the aid of "NerveGear" technology, players can control their avatars within the game using nothing but their own thoughts.

Kazuto Kirigaya, nicknamed "Kirito," is among the lucky few enthusiasts who get their hands on the first shipment of the game. He logs in to find himself, with ten-thousand others, in the scenic and elaborate world of Aincrad, one full of fantastic medieval weapons and gruesome monsters. However, in a cruel turn of events, the players soon realize they cannot log out; the game's creator has trapped them in his new world until they complete all one hundred levels of the game.

In order to escape Aincrad, Kirito will now have to interact and cooperate with his fellow players. Some are allies, while others are foes, like Asuna Yuuki, who commands the leading group attempting to escape from the ruthless game. To make matters worse, Sword Art Online is not all fun and games: if they die in Aincrad, they die in real life. Kirito must adapt to his new reality, fight for his survival, and hopefully break free from his virtual hell.
(Source media: Myanimelist.net)

WHAT I DID LIKE

"What? The way you started this off, there's actually stuff you LIKE about this show?"

Yes. Even I can find my perks in a series that I despise. So, what is it here?



  • The first two episodes. It had such a great premise to it, had such potential to it. I mean, come on, 10,000 people getting trapped in a virtual reality world, unable to awaken unless someone beats the game? How cool does THAT sound?! But then it got ripped under me in terms of how far that type of plot potential really held. Because immediately in episode 3, they SKIP. TWO. YEARS. Out of nowhere. No buildup, no nothing.
  • The animation. It is GLORIOUS to look at, especially the boss battles that the characters endure. I think their entire budget went down to those fights, and to some of the scenery. It was just pretty to look at.
  • The opening/ending soundtracks. (Note: NOT including opening 2. Because opening 2 really, really sucked.) I am a fan of Lisa after watching Angel Beats, and when I first heard her singing the first opening of SAO, "Crossing Field," I wasn't disappointed. I also really love the second ending, "Overfly," and "Yume Sekai," the first ending is really soft and lightens my mood. And I refuse to speak of the second opening. So, overall, the music was well done.
  • Clyne and Lisbeth. I adored these characters. Clyne especially, I really thought that he had potential to be a good character, but he was trapped in the wrong show. These two characters barely got to be in a few episodes. I think Lisbeth was only in two, actually. Clyne managed to get MAYBE three.


HERE COMES THE PAIN...

Okay, now on to what you REALLY came here for. My many, many flaws about this series. I've got my list up and raring to go~

I don't think it goes to say this, but there are glaring warnings of spoilers.

I warned you!



  • Kirito is your stereotypical main male character in a video game type environment. He’s a NEET (Someone who stays indoors constantly). I like a lot of NEET characters, such as Sora from "No Game, No Life" (someone that actually came out after Kirito, but is done much better), so I think, hey, he could be okay. Always wearing black, always trying to be the cool mysterious badass, get all the girls to fawn over him somehow, when he pushes all but Asuna away. He has a leg up in the game because he was a beta tester, and everyone hates him. But take away his swords, he’s really got nothing behind him for me. Oh? Wait? You put him back in the real world and he’s a total nobody again? You don’t say. Kirito, to me, has no real personality, similar to how I feel about Asuna. He’s just a wall built for Asuna that swings his sword when people try to even go within five feet of her. 
  • Speaking of Asuna, she is a bland heroine. All that she does is bitch, and then suddenly she turns around and she’s coy, and not even in a good way. Which is funny because I actually love characters of her type. She’s a tsundere done wrong for me. Wanna see good heroines? Try Revy from Black Lagoon, Taiga Aisaka from Toradora, Kyoko Mogami from Skip Beat. Two of those heroines don’t even use weapons (Well… Taiga does on and off, but it’s not something used for killing) or are a part of action shows, and they still have more personality than Asuna!
     
  • Kirito and Asuna’s romance. It came out of nowhere, practically. First, Asuna hates him, they hardly talk, hardly ever see each other, suddenly Kirito is thrown into her guild when he loses a fight. They still hardly talk, she bitches at him. Then Kirito gets close to dying, Asuna saves him. “OH LOOK, BETTER KISS ASUNA. OH WOW, I’M NOT GONNA DIE? HEY, ASUNA, LET’S GET MARRIED AT 16/17. OH, BUT WE’RE NOT REALLY MARRIED, ONLY IN THE GAME. I LOVE YOU THOUGH, GURL, MAKE ME DINNER.” Don’t get me wrong. I am a massive romance fan. But that relationship literally came from thin air to me, and it wasn’t very believable that it happened.
  • There should’ve been more action, more battles with the monsters. There were 100 levels, and they only showed, what, TWO? 
  • Sachi. She's a character that was just there for… an episode, maybe? Only there for Kirito’s harem, they shared a bed, she wants to believe that they’re together, and then, boom, she’s dead. *Shrug* Oh well. Wasn’t that important. Annoying, but not important. Pretty much abandoned by episode 5.
  • Kirito’s GOD-HACKING on health in episode 3 or 4 or whatever, it was relatively early, where he’s getting slashed through trying to help Silica. So WHEN does that come up again? Never. So why have it?
  • Episodes 15-end, ALF Art Online. That. Arc. Was fucking. POINTLESS. Really? Elves?
  • Suguha. I don’t get her point in the show much. She’s Kirito's sister, but not really his sister, they’re actually cousins. Oh, but she loves Kirito, she wants to be with him, but he loves a girl who’s currently stuck in a remote comatose, who’s currently being held prisoner in a video game by some sadistic bastard with the most ridiculous scream I’ve ever heard in anime (I watched the Japanese).
  • Oh, wait, speaking of which! Sadistic Bastard: So bad that I didn't even bother to remember his name! He tries to rape Asuna. Plus in my book, I love a moment where characters have bad things happen to them. Bonus points if I legit cannot stand the character. Downside; He gets beat to death by Kirito because he tries to rape Asuna. Man points lost. You constantly talked about how you wanted to beat him, and the very instant Kirito tracks you down in the real world, you turn with your head in your ass and DIE? Didn’t have much of a point, just some old pedophile that wants Asuna’s vag, wants her parent’s money, wants to legitimately take her for himself, but at the same time, pushes her away.
  • Yui. All that she was… a hardly important character in the first part of the series. Adorable kid that calls Kirito and Asuna her parents. One of my favorite voice actors in Japanese too, Kanae Ito. She’s just a program meant to try and ruin things for them, but she loooooves them too much to hurt them. Programs aren’t meant to feel, only in anime though. But at least she was cute, and legit looked like she could’ve been Asuna and Kirito’s love child.
  • Asuna’s a “great cook.” Taking the easy way out and using magic. Well, at her age, I couldn't cook either, but I wouldn’t have resorted to magic even if I could.
  • SAO’s creator. You hardly ever hear mention of this guy again after episode 14.
Oh, and one MAJOR glaring point here: The creator of the series herself… APOLOGIZED… for how terrible that this show turned out. Point proven.

....BUT THAT'S NOT ALL

Despite all of my hatred towards this series... I don't think that it's the worst show that I've personally ever seen. I just think that you should go into it with lower expectations, and maybe, just maybe, you'd walk out a little better. I also think that those that watch should skip episodes 15-26, and if you like it, move on to season 2. You aren't missing very much in between. 

If I had to give the first season my own ranking, it's a 4/10 for sure. I base my ranking on the overall series, but if I had to rate the first half, it would be a 5.5/10. It had its glaring points, but the first two episodes gave it a little pick-me-up. And the second half of the series completely dragged it through the mud and off a cliff.

So, even after re-reading all of this and revamping it, would I try season 2? Probably not. I still can't find much interest in this show after the first, but I admit, this has provided me with a bit more insight on how much I really can tear down my favorites and least favorites in anime. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

[PROMO POST] 24-Hour Book Heist Giveaway!

Young Adult books come in all shapes and sizes. Some star werewolves or vampires. Some feature magic. Sometimes the world is new. Sometimes it’s a twist on everything you know. There is family. Friendship shows up in spades. Most of the time, you can be sure you’ll fall in love. 

It’s a world of literature that so many miss out on because they think the name describes the reader’s age. In reality, YA books are for those who appreciate the wonders of youth. They strive for the optimism and the courage in the face of danger. Yes, teens read these stories in droves, but they aren’t the only ones who can learn from the perpetual hope these characters see. To see the world through the eyes of someone who wants to make it better is an astounding thing. 

Nineteen young adult authors have banded together to show their little corners of the world, their hope and courage and optimism. It is shown through the actions of teenagers who are ever changing. They love with the same fierceness that they hate and forgive easily. They believe they can do anything. Who doesn’t want a piece of that? 

When you enter our giveaway, you not only have a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite, but so many more prizes from paperbacks to swag. Every entrant will also receive five FREE eBooks. You can sign up nineteen different ways.   

By entering, you are also helping each author donate books to The Lisa Libraries. It’s an organization that provides books to people in underserved communities who may not otherwise have them. They supply youth centers, women’s shelters, and so much more. 

Like this Facebook page where you can learn more about us and where we’ll announce our winners throughout the giveaway!


Introducing our mixed bag of authors!
Michelle Lynn – Dystopian
Rebecca Jaycox - Fantasy
Michelle Bryan - Dystopian
Gina Azzi – Contemporary Romance
Melissa Craven - Paranormal
Kelly St. Clare - Fantasy
Susan Faw - Fantasy
G.K. DeRosa - Paranormal
T.D. Shields - Dystopian
Patrick Hodges - Contemporary
Amalie Jahn – Science Fiction 
Claire Luana - Fantasy
K.J. McPike - Paranormal
Michael Bailey – Super Heroes
J.A. Culican - Fantasy
Elysabeth Eldering – Paranormal Mystery
Rita Goldner – Children’s
K.R. Conway - Paranormal
T.L. McDonald - Fantasy 

You can also sign up for the giveaway at this link! 

Better act fast, the giveaway ends at midnight!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

[GAME GRINDING] Tales of Zestiria V.S. "The X"


Tales of Zestiria V.S "The X"

Sorey is a human youth that grew up among the Seraphim, spiritual beings invisible to others. 

Sorey believes in the folklore that says "long ago, every human was able to see the seraphim" and dreams of unraveling the ancient mystery to make the world a place where people and seraphim can live together in peace.


One day, Sorey visits the human capital for the very first time. He becomes embroiled in an incident during which he pulls out a holy sword embedded in a rock and ends up becoming a Shepherd, one who casts away calamity from the world. He begins to realize the gravity of his mission, and his dream of coexistence between mankind and the seraphim becomes more intense—And thus, the Shepherd embarks on an amazing journey with his companions.



Rare is it that a video game gets its own anime adaption, right? No? Well, okay, maybe not anymore, but how many of them actually seem to succeed in making their anime as good as its game's standards? 

Better yet, I'll ask this: IS the anime ever better than the game itself, or is it a mass of convolution and left to pure luck that the anime isn't something to completely scrap after a few episodes?

With the conclusion of this anime's first season just over a week ago, and the knowledge of the video game still decently fresh in my mind from about a year ago, I decided to craft this little event. 

Is Tales of Zestiria worth playing, or should you just skip to the anime for its story? Maybe even just play the game and skip the anime? Watch and play? Huh. Which one is the better option overall?

Before I begin, I'd like to recommend that you have basic knowledge of the video game Tales of Zestiria before reading over this review. Maybe you don't even have to have completed the game, or watched the anime. But I'm going to try and keep this as spoiler-free as I can for most of the development. And don't worry, I'll warn you of the spoilers.

ROUND ONE: OPENING SONG

We're going to start this off pretty simple. 

Which version of this saga had the better opening sequence? 

We are comparing "White Light" by Superfly of the video game to "Kaze no Uta" by Flow of the anime!

  • As far as appeal goes, I feel that "Kaze no Uta" has a much stronger rhythm to it, and it seems to have more of an adventurous spirit behind it, whereas "White Light" seems to rely more on the aspect of stepping into battle and wanting to cleanse the world of malevolence. Both themes are extremely important to the story of Tales of Zestiria, but I'd have to lean more towards "Kaze no Uta" for appeal because it relates heavily to Sorey's character and the adventures that he takes while he is growing as the Shephard.
  • Lyrical wise, which song has the stronger suit? I'm gonna give examples of the English lyrics here, and let you guys decide on it!
Kaze no Uta: 
Following your path that leads far into the distance
Let us ride the wind!
The answer we're searching for won't be found easily
But we knew that when we took the first step!
We've left footsteps in our dreams from the detours
But once we open that map we've been drawing all this time...

White Light:
Without a single word, become white
Let’s live life in a phantasmagoric way
Black, darkness, all tossed away
I’m just so so sick of them
Please, one last chance 
I wanna be white, white now




  • As far as the animation for each sequence go, I think that they both suit their respective songs incredibly. That would be the beauty of ufotable at its finest! But once again, I lean more towards "Kaze no Uta" for the way that it introduces the characters, shows off their personalities more, and still retains the sense of stepping into battle that "White Light" exuberates.

ROUND ONE WINNER: Tales of Zestiria the X



ROUND TWO: STORY PROGRESSION

One of the biggest issues that I had with Tales of Zestiria was the story progression. The video game felt incredibly slow to start, and that pacing continued for quite a while, up until around the time that Alisha controversially leaves the party and Rose takes her place. And even after that, the story still felt like it had some inconsistencies in pacing. 

Some people also comment that the anime moves at a similar pace, mainly with the first two episodes of the anime taking place in Elysia, where Sorey and his best friend Mikleo are from, meeting Alisha, and the entire first season working in the fashion of the first, maybe, six hours overall of the game.

I'd like to disagree with people about the pacing of the anime versus the game. I personally feel that a lot more is executed in the anime, and a bit faster than the game did for me. Heck, three and a half hours of gameplay amounts to about the story development of four episodes. If you account that, the game is almost twice as long to work through. And that's not even accounting the actual gameplay, this is just projecting up to the story's sequence of events.

My biggest applause goes to the way that the anime switched up the sequence of events. And it's so noticeable and seems to flow much better than the way that the game executes it. Not only that, but I also admire some of the changes that they made to the characters. I'll list a few examples, hopefully avoiding a slew of massive spoilers:
  • During the early start of Sorey's journey as the Shepard, Mikleo is coming to terms with the new ordeals of malevolence and wanting to help him to understand more about what he is facing. In the game, Mikleo flat out runs off and leaves Sorey and Lailah while he goes to think about the right method to help in addition to being annoyed with Sorey's gung-ho attitude towards the situation. In the anime, I feel that this situation is handled better because Lailah actually tells him of a way that he could help Sorey, and Mikleo leaves without telling Sorey, and Lailah keeps him the dark, which is a huge boost in Mikleo's character development.
  • After Sorey first takes up the mantle as Shepard, Alisha is actually attacked by the Scattered Bones assassins, something that didn't occur in the original storyline, which was pretty impressive. It gives us more insight into Alisha's character that way.
  • Speaking more on Alisha's character, she was originally slotted as the main heroine, but she was controversially replaced by Rose without warning, and leaves the journey at the end of the Marlind arc. In the anime, she seems to have a much broader part in the story, acting as a major influence to Sorey throughout the entire anime rather than just the first 25% like in the game. Which made me pleased, because I thought that Alisha was a character that deserved to be fleshed out more, and she is among one of my favorites in the anime for these reasons.

ROUND TWO WINNER: Tales of Zestiria the X



ROUND THREE: CHARACTER IMPACT

I'm not going to go into a ton of detail on each of our main characters here, but I will give you a general idea about who they are, what you can expect from them, and who my favorites are overall from both the anime and the video game.

Sorey: Let's start with our hero, the Shepard Sorey. Growing up in the mystical world of Elysia alongside his best friend Mikleo, the only human able to interact with the Seraphim due to his high levels of resonance, he is very optimistic and is a thrill seeker. He and Mikleo have a tendency to search through ruins, always seeking to explore new regions and uncover new mysteries. After meeting Alisha Diphda, a human from the land of Ladylake, he draws forth the powers of the Shephard and he seeks to follow his dream of allowing the Seraphim and humans to once more interact. 

I always found Sorey to remind me a bit of Sora from Kingdom Hearts, and that's aside from similar names and appearances. He's optimistic, fun, loves adventure, and he finds a lot of passion in his dreams. That and his relationship with every character seems so... dynamic. He can make friends with anyone that he meets, and that is only expanded on in "The X."

Mikleo: A Seraphim of water, Mikleo is the right-hand man of Sorey. Aaand he is also considered the heroine by many fans because of how pretty he looks. He is Sorey's contrast--where Sorey is more optimistic and gung-ho, Mikleo is very calm, collected and observant, and is almost always at Sorey's side, wanting to assist him in any ways that he can.

Of all of the guys that are in the story, Mikleo is definitely the most interesting for me. I adore his behavior, and his sense of humor is so unexpectedly good for him. I especially love seeing him paired up with Edna, because she's such a snarky person, and he can be so hotheaded around only her, and it's a side of Mikleo you wouldn't expect. His loyalty is admirable, and I love him in both versions of the media he appears in. 

Lailah: Lailah is the Seraphim of flames that ruled over Ladylake, awaiting the return of the Shepard. When Sorey steps up to the plate, she sees his potential, and works to help him as much as her "contract" allows. A fan of baking and a motherly type, Lailah is definitely a strong fighter and an elegant person. 

What I love most about Lailah is not only her gentle nature, but I also admire the way that she carries herself, especially when it comes to withholding information. She always tends to be ditzy about it, jokes around, and it's shown most in the game above the anime. The anime portrays her more in the motherly sense than the charismatic and fun girl that she really is, and I definitely prefer her fun side to her motherly side.

Edna: Seraphim, strong as the earth with a tongue that splits through air, walks Edna. The younger sister of a powerful Seraphim, she is introduced atop the mountain range. Her older brother Eizen has been corrupted by malevolence and transformed into a dragon, a powerful being in need of purification. Edna seeks a way to restore his mind, and joins Sorey's quest to achieve that goal. 

I... ADORE Edna. She's by far my favorite character in Zestiria. I think that her attitude, despite it being one that could be perceived as obnoxious, snarky, mean, I really do find her personality to be so strong and ladylike in a way that contrasts Lailah's motherly nature. She has that older sister quality about her, but she also be a younger sister given that she actually is one, and that younger quality about her is most evident around Mikleo. She teases him, gives him the nickname "Meebo," carries a parasol given to her by Eizen, and generally has a sweet look about her. Yeah. She's my favorite.

Zaveid/Dezel: Nope, they're not at all the same person, but they are both Seraphim of the same element, Wind. And I decided to group them together because they both essentially got the same amount of screen time in the anime and game combined.

Dezel (with the hat) is the Seraphim that guards over Rose, and is introduced in the very last episode of the anime, and about midway through the game. He is very stern, serious, and even now, there is a lot that is unknown about him. He is a complete contrast to his element in my opinion. 

Now for Zaveid (long hair). He is a loner, rides wherever the wind takes him. He is first introduced when Edna is seeking a way to restore Eizen back to his former self, and it is revealed that he was a close friend of Eizen's, and has the desire as well to see to it that he is either saved or restored. Zaveid also has the duty of watching over Edna, a promise that he made to Eizen.

Of these two, I would definitely give my props to Zaveid. I like his personality, and in the game, his interactions with Lailah are pleasing. She cares about him, yet is still uncomfortable enough with him to tease and harass him. His relationship with Edna is also touched on in the anime, something that I honestly didn't expect much to occur. Dezel didn't really stand out much as a character for me. Maybe he will in the anime though!

Alisha Diphda: Princess to the kingdom of Rolance, she is a faithful knight and an advocate to her land. She stumbles upon the world of Elysia after her country is besieged by malevolence and seeks the guidance of a Shepard. Under the watchful eyes of Sorey, she comes to learn that he can see the Seraphim and invites him to the ceremony of Ladylake to determine a new Shepard. After Sorey succeeds, she becomes a close companion to him and acts as his primary follower and aide. 

I personally find Alisha to be a strong character, not solely for her titles, but because of the way that she goes about situations. Many perceive her to be naive and foolish due to her idealism that she would risk her own life for the lives of countless others, but I feel that as a princess to a struggling kingdom, that is definitely the right path for her. She is foolish for choosing to be a fatality if it is so thrust upon her, but she is still someone that I feel is worthy of her behavior.

Rose: Rose is seen as an enigma in the beginning of Zestiria, working as a merchant for the Sparrowfeathers. She is the first person that Sorey meets when he arrives in Ladylake, and she lends him a helping hand in exchange for a favor. This momentum keeps up, but there is definitely more to Rose than meets the eye.

Personally, I love all of the main cast, but I would have to put Rose as my least favorite of the Tales of Zestiria cast... the video game, at least. The anime seems to flesh her beginning out much better, and it really expands on the relationship with Alisha that she develops. The game doesn't seem to show much of any--it really only shows Rose to be more antagonistic towards her, whereas Alisha shares a mutual distaste and yet still sees them as friends. I think that Rose is a bit of, well, a bitch in the games. The anime, I do not. It's a strange combination.

ROUND THREE WINNER: Tie


Now that we have our results, I'd say that in terms of character development, story, and overall appeal, watch the anime for the better results. If you don't want to watch the anime... definitely try out the game, and maybe it could influence your ideals on wanting to try and find the differences in the anime the way that I had! 

I would rate the overall series, game and anime, a 6.7/10. Individually, I would rate the game a 6, and the anime a 7.3. I just preferred the pacing of the anime and the fleshing out of the characters much more, especially given that I played the game first.

Monday, October 3, 2016

[ANIMANIUS] Orange


ORANGE

When you hear the word "orange," what imagery rushes into your mind? Would it be the fruit? How about fire? Maybe even merely the color?

Well, I'd like to give my imagery of what I find. When I hear the word "orange" after having watched this anime, I find myself thinking of the sunrise after a long, cold night. The sun tints a brilliant shade, and provides those who suffer from hardship with a sense of hope.


The anime "Orange" is a fine example of uncovering this sensation. But don't let my writer's metaphors be the reasoning behind this review. Let's get on with it!

PLOT:

On her first day of her second year of high school, Naho Takamiya receives a letter written to herself from ten years in the future. As she reads on, the letter recites the exact moments of the day, including the transfer of a new student named Kakeru Naruse. This leads Naho herself to believe that there is an underlining reason why she was given these letters.

Future Naho repeatedly states that she has many regrets, and she wants to fix these by making sure the Naho from the past can make the right decisions—especially regarding Kakeru. What's more shocking is that she discovers that ten years later, Kakeru is no longer with them. In order to correct the events of her splintered time, Future Naho asks her past self to watch over Kakeru.

PLOT ANALYSIS:


~I'd have to say, the plot really does touch on a lot of major issues regarding social norms as well as mental stability. Very few anime (that I have seen, mind you) seem to thoroughly grasp the concepts of PTSD and suicidal tendencies. As someone that suffers from severe anxiety and a lesser form of PTSD, I was intrigued watching the first episode and learning that the clause of the show, Kakeru, was the driving force.

~Suicide is a hefty subject in the story; in the original timeline where Future Naho resides, Kakeru has committed suicide due to his mother taking her own life after Kakeru chose a day with his new friends after transferring instead of journeying with her to the hospital. At first, you may see something like this as rather childish, even selfish of his mother to do, but when you analyze episode 12 of the series, you find that there was an underlining reason behind why his mother felt the way that she did, and why she ultimately took her life, and in turn, why Kakeru chose the same fate. I won't thoroughly spoil things, but it's definitely something to anticipate. Especially if you have a passion for character development as well as mental analysis.


CHARACTERS:

I'm gonna switch things up a bit here from my normal style of reviewing--instead of just giving you information on each character and telling you what I think, I'm going to also rank them based on their character development for me. And I'm going to keep up this method for every anime review that has a strong cast from now on.

Let's begin, shall we?


TAKAKO: Takako is one of Naho's closest female friends next to Azusa. Stalwart, a bit reserved, but fiercely loyal and willing to fight to ensure the safety and justice of her friends, she is by far one of Naho's go-to girls for advice. She seems to be the glue that holds the group together, and seems to have a strong bond in particular with Suwa.

Sadly, I'm not sure how much that I can really say about Takako aside from that. Among the six, she seems to stand out the least, which is a shame, because I feel like her character could have been expanded on a lot more than simply being the right hand to Azusa and her complete contrast, which is why I have to put her down at sixth. She's got the potentials to be a good character, but I don't feel like it was fleshed out enough anime-wise.

SAKU: Better known as Hagita to most, and what I prefer to call him myself, because it rolls off the tongue. He is essentially the butt of everyone's jokes, being very studious and a manga-lover, bad at sports. He's your typical nerd. But something about his personality, especially when he's paired with Azusa, is just so appealing that I can't help but feel a sense of elatedness whenever he's on the screen.

He is actually quite funny, and his future self is remotely same. But, as Azusa proclaims, he's pretty hot without his glasses too. However... I sometimes feel bad that he's always the ass of everyone's jokes, and that his character can be left as that too. He's got such amazing prowess and potential to be better, so because of that, he is actually fourth of my rankings. (...Fourth? What about the fifth?)

AZUSA: Azusa is the most charismatic of the group of six by fair, rivaled only by Suwa. She is the daughter of a bakery owner, and so she always finds a way to have snacks handy for her friends. In tandem with Takako, she plays matchmaker for the love triangle that is Suwa, Naho and Kakeru, and also played matchmaker at a point for Kakeru and another girl named Ueda (...let's not talk about THAT woman). She is an overall carefree character, loves a good time, and to me, she has the brightest personality of all of the group. I absolutely adore her.

So why is she tied for fourth? It's mainly because like Hagita and Takako, I feel like we don't see enough of her until near the middle-end of the anime. Which is a real shame, I'd love to see how she ended up in the future, what she was doing, and I REALLY wish that she could have been with Hagita. It's so obvious that they're in love with one another, and Hagita keeps denying his feelings, and- moving on. Azusa, definitely my favorite of the female group, probably could have become my favorite overall if she had been fleshed out a bit more.





NAHO: Now for our main character Naho. She's a rather introverted girl at first, very calm and motherly towards other characters, but still gets to interact with others as the sweet type. To me, she's your normal girl in a shojo anime, but that's not what I'm going to elaborate on. Young Naho develops quite well as she works through her future changlings to grow closer not only to Kakeru, but to her childhood friends as well. 

Naho's character as a whole seems to shape into a fashion that defies what I think of others in her archetype--she actually desires change in herself in order to work at saving Kakeru's life, falls in love with him, and overall becomes well-rounded. At the same time, she retains the person that she was in high school into her future self. And while she doesn't change her personality, her character does grow stronger. Of the six main characters, I'd put her at third place due to her development.



KAKERU: Kakeru is a second year transfer student from Tokyo to Naho's high school in Matsumoto.

Kakeru is the catalyst of the story of Orange, and it is revealed quite early that he helps to bond the group of six together as Naho quests to save his life and ensure that he has a place with them in the future. But further than that, Kakeru is troubled.

On the day of the opening ceremony, Kakeru decides to go out with his new friends instead of going to the hospital with his ailing mother. When his mother urges him to come home, Kakeru refuses, telling her that she isn't a child and that he can't do it anymore. These actions drive her over the edge, and she commits suicide. This traumatizes Kakeru and becomes the driving force of his downward spiral. In the late winter of his second year, he gets into an accident, being hit by a truck while on his bike. Only ten years later is it revealed that he left a note; his death had been no accident. 

When I first got to see Kakeru's development in action, I found myself relating the most to him overall. I was a bit older than Kakeru when I lost my mother suddenly, and it traumatized me to the point where I felt that I had regressed into a helpless child that only wanted to have more to say. Sometimes I still feel as if I am trapped in my own mind, which is why I find so much resonance with Kakeru's feelings of suicide, his lost state of mind, his inability to find trust in others with his feelings until Naho uncovers the letters of her past self. There's so much that I can say about Kakeru's downward spiral and how his newfound friends assist him, but it would take up all of my work here. So, I'll end it on this. His relation, his believable reactions, everything about him puts him at a solid second for my rankings. (What? SECOND?)


HIROTO: Yep, that's right! Despite all of the comparisons that I can make with Kakeru, my favorite of the entire cast is without a doubt Hiroto Suwa! (Yes, if I had to pick, this would probably be my #1 anime guy of the season.)

Suwa is by far one of the most well-developed side-main characters I have seen in a long time for a shojo/drama based anime. A soccer fanatic, supportive, and sweet, he is a character that seems likable from the start, but the more that time goes on, you discover that there is more to him than just your standard jock type. 

In fact, you discover about four episodes in that Suwa has some secrets of his own, secrets that he shares with Naho. He is also a keeper of the letters from the future. He plays a powerful role in changing Kakeru's fate, but what he comes to terms with is part of what drew me to his character. And I'm going to elaborate on that here. (SPOILERS BEWARE.)


~PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE: Hiroto and Naho~

Ten years into the future, Suwa is married to Naho, and they have an infant son. While Naho and the others feels regret for not helping to save Kakeru in the future, Suwa in particular regrets that he didn't support them both as a friend rather than seeing Kakeru more as potential rival for Naho, and that he doesn't know how to make Naho happy after Kakeru's death. 

He feels the most compassion towards wishing that he had been better not to Naho as someone that truly loves her, but to them both, and that is incredible to consider. 

In his future, he loves Naho, he is married to her, they have a child together, strengthening their bond together... and yet, if he had the choice to be able to go back in time and correct things, he would have given up his happiness in order for Naho to have her own with Kakeru if she so chose it.

Yes, you read that correctly. He literally would give up everything that he haves... just to make sure that Naho gets her happy ending. He sacrifices himself for her, his best friend, the woman that he loves more than anything. Do you know how rare that is to find in any kind of media these days? That's truly beautiful, and such strength for a character like Suwa, who seems so typical at first. He defies so many odds, and that level of compassion  is what made me so drawn to Suwa as a character.

Sometimes it makes me feel while watching this anime, Kakeru was not the driving force towards a better future. I feel that it was Suwa that ultimately led them all towards that sense of happiness that everyone deserved.


ANIMATION:

I thought that the animation reminded me of another anime of a similar style to this, Blue Spring Ride. But I personally find the story of Orange to be far more appealing, and the characters stand out more to me.

Actually, even some of the characters themselves resemble others from that show (Ex: Naho and Futaba, Kakeru and Kou.)




All in all, I felt that it wasn't bad to look at animation wise. The character designs are more defined, and it shows well for them. The scenery could have been a bit better, but I think that the animation was pretty top-notch for its genre that it was trying to fulfill.




OVERALL:

Due to its pacing, characters, animation and story, I definitely would have to recommend this anime to anyone that likes drama, great development... and I give it a solid 8 out of 10 stars!

...I kinda want some oranges now though...