Tag: 2003

One Piece (Sky Island)

One Piece (Sky Island)

One Piece anime logo
One Piece Logo

Overview

Sky Island is the third arc of the One Piece anime, the first and second being East Blue and Alabasta respectively. The Sky Island arc covers episodes 136 – 206, which means it’s the longest of the arcs up to this point in the series. It’s also the best arc so far, but we’ll get into that later.

Before we get to the main portion of the arc in which the Straw Hat crew actually go to the sky islands, we first have a small arc involving a mysterious rainbow mist. The rainbow mist is a phenomenon that appears only around a specific island in the grand line.

What makes the rainbow mist so unique, however, isn’t actually the fact that it’s rainbow. Instead, it works as a portal which can send entire ships to a region of the sea known as Ape’s Concert. And no, I have no idea why it’s named that, there are no apes nor concerts there.

This region of the sea is known as a ship graveyard because once a ship enters Ape’s Concert, it will likely never return. The region is also an endless loop so going too far in one direction will simply make you end up exactly where you started. Further, time seems to stand still in this region of the sea.

Now that I’ve vaguely covered that mini arc, it’s time to get to the real sky island arc. You see, there’s an island known as Jaya which has a legend about an island in the sky somewhere in the nearby sea, however, this island has never been confirmed.

As it turns out, there are actually multiple islands in the sky and they’re collectively known as Skypiea. The two primary sky islands this arc will focus on are Angel Island and Upper Yard, also known as Shandora by the natives.

To get to these islands, Luffy and his crew need to ride a giant underwater explosion up into the clouds, because how else are you supposed to get there? Once there, they land on Angel Island where they discover the inhabitants have wings like angels and are led by a man who calls himself god Eneru.

"God" Eneru from the Sky Island arc of One Piece
Eneru

Essentially, god is the title of the leader of the Skypieans, and he resides on Upper Yard because it’s considered to be holy ground. Why is Upper Yard considered holy? Well, all of the other sky islands are made out of a special type of cloud, Upper Yard, however, is an earthen island from the Blue Sea down below.

I should mention here that the Blue Sea refers to the sea of the Earth, while the sky islands have what’s known as the White White Sea. This sea is made out of a special kind of cloud as well, but one that’s different from the kind that makes up the sky islands.

So anyway, Upper Yard is a regular island, but then how did it end up in the sky? Remember that giant underwater explosion I mentioned earlier? Upper Yard used to be the other half of the island known as Jaya until it was blown into the sky by one of these explosions.

Once, in the sky, Upper Yard, previously half of Jaya, was taken over by god and the skypians. The natives of Upper Yard lived in a city known as Shandora and refer to themselves as Shandorans. The Shandorans were kicked off Upper Yard, and have been fighting to get it back for the past 400 years.

So, some stuff happens and eventually Luffy defeats the god Eneru, as expected, and both the Skypieans and Shandorans begin a truce. God Eneru had to be defeated because he was actually a tyrant by the way. I’ll talk more about him in the character section, but he was going to destroy Skypiea for some reason.

After the events of the main Sky Island arc conclude, the Straw Hat crew plummet back down to the Blue Sea and land inside an impenetrable Navy fortress known as G8. Out of the entire Sky Island arc, this mini arc at the end was actually my favorite.

The Straw Hat crew must figure out a way to escape from the Navy fortress while also holding onto the gold they “stole” from Skypiea. Out of everything that’s happened in the series so far, this is the most pirate-like arc there is, and it’s only around 10 episodes long.

Characters

As usual, there are a large number of new characters introduced in the Sky Island arc, but today I’ll just be focusing on the four I think are the most important, Robin, Conis, Eneru, and Wyper. The first of the four, Robin Nico, was actually in the Alabasta arc, but I saved her for this post instead.

You may remember Robin as the right-hand woman of the antagonist of the Alabasta arc, Crocodile. At the very end of the arc, Robin decided to join the Straw Hat crew because she figured it might be interesting, and since Luffy saved her from being killed in the end.

Robin is an archaeologist who’s searching for giant stone tablets known as poneglyphs. The poneglyphs supposedly tell the lost history of the world and are spread throughout the Grand Line. All of the different poneglyphs are needed to uncover the lost history.

She also has devil fruit powers, making her the third Straw Hat crew member to have them, Luffy and Chopper being the other two. I don’t remember the name of the devil fruit she ate, but she’s able to create seemingly infinite body parts appear out of anywhere and anything.

Honestly, her power is pretty broken considering there doesn’t seem to be any limit. She could even incapacitate an entire army by herself if she wanted to.

Conis is the Skypiean who the Straw Hat crew meet when they first land on Angel Island. She lives there with her father and is the first friend the crew makes in this new region. However, she and her father betray the crew and hand them over to god Eneru out of fear for their own lives.

Much like Vivi from Alabasta, I’m glad Conis didn’t end up joining the Straw Hat crew in the end because there’s really nothing special about her other than the fact that she has wings (which don’t seem to be used for flight by the way).

Speaking of joining the Straw Hat crew, because Robin technically joined the crew in the Alabasta arc, there are no new Straw Hat members introduced in the Sky Island arc. I kind of assumed we’d be getting a new member in each arc, so maybe Robin does count as this arc’s member.

Nico Robin from the Sky Island arc of One Piece
Robin

Eneru is the primary antagonist of the Sky Island arc. He comes from a different sky island which he completely destroyed when he left and made his way to Angel Island and Upper Yard. It’s still kind of unclear to me why he wants to destroy all of the sky islands in the first place, though.

He basically just wants to go live in and rule over the Blue Sea, so I’m not entirely sure what destroying the sky islands has to do with that. Also, at the end of the arc he’s shown flying towards the moon, so I have no real clue as to what his end goal really was.

But, Eneru has a devil fruit power which not only gives him control over lightning, he is lightning. And, as some of you may know, any character who uses lightning-type attacks is almost guaranteed to be one of my favorites solely because of that.

As lightning itself, Eneru is essentially the most powerful being in the world. He’s definitely the strongest character we’ve met so far, and I’m actually going to say that we’ll never see another character over the course of this series who’s truly stronger.

Even the way in which Eneru was “defeated” didn’t really make sense, because he can’t be defeated. He was defeated by being hit by a giant gold ball, but it was already established that he could just turn into electricity and travel through gold so technically he could have just avoided the hit by doing that, but I digress.

As the embodiment of lightning, Eneru can not only use the shocking power of lightning, but also the heat and speed of lightning, making him the most versatile character in the anime. I mentioned that Robin was overpowered, but she can’t even physically touch Eneru.

From the very first time we meet Eneru and his devil fruit power was explained, I already knew how the arc would end. Since Luffy is rubber, he was just going to beat up Eneru anyway. Rubber defeats electricity after all.

However, once Eneru was able to heat up metal and use it to burn Luffy, it really showed just how powerful he is. He was able to use the secondary properties of his devil fruit power to work around his one and only counter, meaning he has no counter.

And, devil fruit power isn’t all Eneru has at his disposal. He’s also in possession of a power known as Mantra which allows him to read bodily movements. By doing this, he’s able to predict the movements of not only the person he’s fighting, but also everyone else all across Skypiea.

So, as I previously stated, Eneru is the strongest character introduced so far, and I really think it’s impossible for a stronger character to ever be introduced later. His defeat itself is a plot hole because there’s literally no way to beat him.

As a final fun fact about Eneru, his title of “god” is kind of a play on words considering the Japanese word for god is “Kami” and “Kaminari” is the Japanese word for thunder (lightning). At one point in his battle against Luffy, Eneru says something along the lines of, “I am lightning” and emphasizes the “Kami” in “Kaminari,” saying that he’s both lightning and god.

There’s your little Japanese lesson for the day.

Now onto the fourth and final character I wanted to mention, Wyper. Wyper is the leader of the Shandoran rebels who have been fighting to regain control of Upper Yard for the past 400 years. While the primary reason for their fighting is to reclaim their homeland, there’s a second, true reason as well.

Somewhere in the ancient ruins of Shandora there’s a giant bell which Wyper wishes to ring in honor of his ancestor’s wish. His ancestor wanted to ring the bell, known as the Fire of Shandora, in order to let his best friend (down below, on Jaya) know that he was in the sky.

Wyper is a secondary antagonist of this arc, but isn’t on the same side as either the Straw Hat pirates or Eneru. Because of this, there are at least three (up to five) different factions fighting against each other throughout the arc which makes for some pretty interesting dynamics.

As someone who doesn’t have devil fruit powers or the power of Mantra, Wyper instead uses sky island technology known as dials. Specifically, he has a lost dial known as a Reject Dial strapped to one of his hands. With this dial he can deal a massive amount of blunt force trauma.

As one final note, I’d like to mention that Wyper and the rest of the Shandorans have wings just like the Skypieans even though they’re originally from the Blue Sea. I though that maybe they developed these wings over the 400 years since their island was blasted into the sky, but this isn’t the case.

In a flashback to when the island of Jaya was whole, the Shandorans living in the Blue Sea still had wings. This seems to simply be an error in the story since at no point were the Shandorans’ wings ever mentioned, and yet I can see no reason for them having them in the first place.

Conclusion

Overall, despite being better than both East Blue and Alabasta, the Sky Island arc of One Piece is still a 6/10 just like Alabasta, albeit a higher 6/10. If the quality of the animation as well as the pacing of the series were improved, then it could easily have been a 7.

The fourth OP of One Piece is available here.

If you enjoyed this post then let me know by clicking the like button down below. You can also leave a comment down there if you’d like to share your thoughts on the Sky Island arc as well. Did you think it was better or worse than the previous two arcs?

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My review of the next saga, Water 7, is available here.

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Cromartie High School

Cromartie High School

Cromartie High School anime cover art featuring various characters
Cromartie High School Cover Art

Overview

It’s finally time to review Cromartie High School which was originally recommended to me back in February of this year by a fellow member of the Halo community.

Cromartie High School mainly follows Kamiyama and his friends in year one of Cro-High as it’s called. While most of the other students in the school are self-proclaimed “badasses,” Kamiyama is your typical, good-natured, anime protagonist who doesn’t belong there.

Each episode is only half-length, meaning that they’re about 12 minutes long rather than a full-length episode which would be around 24. This said, I wouldn’t call it a short because those tend to be five minutes or less.

While there are concepts which carry over between episodes, each one is largely a standalone event, or more commonly, multiple standalone events per episode. Because of how the series is structured as well as the length of each episode, it’s a good anime to pick up for an episode when you have some spare time.

Rather than trying to explain some of the hijinks that goes on in this anime, I think it would be more effective to simply move on to the characters section.


Characters

As stated earlier, Kamiyama is the protagonist of the series and one of the few characters who doesn’t really belong in Cro-High. However, in order to learn how he ended up going to school there, you’ll have to read the manga as the anime instructs.

Kamiyama adapts surprisingly well to life at Cro-High. Within the first episode or so he already establishes himself as “the most badass” year one student. He doesn’t do anything to earn this title other than existing in the same school as everyone else, because if you see a rabbit sitting with a bunch of lions, you think, “that must be one badass rabbit.”

While not the only student to actually use logical arguments, that’s one of Kamiyama’s strengths. Despite this, his “logical” arguments don’t always apply to what goes on at Cro-High.

Hayashida is Kamiyama’s best friend and sports a purple mohawk. He’s not the brightest of the bunch, but is loyal to Kamiyama ever since he was established as the “most badass” year one student. Hayashida is easily swayed by Kamiyama’s arguments.

Maeda is a blonde student who frequently tends to get kidnapped by rival school Des-High. Despite his frequent kidnappings, Maeda is probably the only real voice of reason at Cro-High and tends to attempt to reason with Kamiyama and Hayashida to no avail.

Takenouchi is the “boss” of Cro-High’s year one. While Kamiyama is the “most badass,” Takenouchi is considered to be the strongest and rules with an iron fist. However, despite his outward appearance, he has one major weakness, he gets motion sick easily.

Mechazawa is the first of three “students” at Cro-High who are a bit different from the rest. As you might infer from his name, Mechazawa is actually a robot, although none of the other students aside from Kamiyama and Hayashida appear to realize this (Maeda might, I forget).

Freddie Mercury is the next of these characters. While he is human, Kamiyama comments on how he’s unsure if he’s really enrolled as a Student in Cro-High. Freddie has no dialogue, never wears a shirt, and rides a giant horse to school.

The final of these three characters is Go, a literal Gorilla. Unlike with Freddie, whose enrollment status is questionable, Kamiyama is sure that Go isn’t actually a student at Cro-High. However, Go still seems to be considered part of the gang and hangs out at Maeda’s house with everyone else.

The final character I’ll mention is the only one who is explicitly not a student at Cro-High. Yamaguchi is the boss of year one at Des-High and therefore can be considered Des-High’s counterpart to Takenouchi of Cro-High.

Yamaguchi, despite being strong, really just wants to commit to his love of comedy. Due to this, he frequently lashes out physically at his subordinates who make bad jokes, which just makes them think he hates comedy since they don’t know his secret.

Takashi Kamiyama and Shinjirou Hayashida from the anime Cromartie High School
Kamiyama and Hayashida

Conclusion

In the end I decided that Cromartie High School is a 6/10, however, as I’ve mentioned for other series, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad. I actually really enjoyed the series for what it was, but I still feel that I can’t rate it any higher despite the fact that I liked it.

I heard that Cromartie High School had similar comedy to my favorite anime of the current season, Hinamatsuri, and after watching it I’d have to agree. Both series implement deadpan humor effectively, although I still think I like Hinamatsuri more (full review coming once the season ends).

Even though I’ve only recently finished this series, I’ve already seen references to it in other anime since then. Specifically, episode three of Lucky Star, which I started just this weekend, referenced Cromartie.

I’ve probably seen references to it in the past, but simply didn’t notice. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Monogatari series referenced Cromartie at one point and I just happened to miss it because I wasn’t aware of what was being referenced at the time.

In the end there’s only one thing I might want to change about this anime. While I found the half-length episodes to be convenient at times, I still think I would have preferred them to be full-length.

I’m not saying the content in each episode needs to be expanded to double its current length, but they could have just combined episodes into pairs and it would have worked. I tended to watch this series at a rate of one episode per day, but if each episode was longer I still would have done this, but finished faster.

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Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl anime cover art featuring Henrietta
Gunslinger Girl Cover Art

Overview

Gunslinger girl is a drama anime which takes place in Italy. It follows the Social Welfare Agency which is a front for a top-secret government agency which uses child cyborgs as assassins. Young girls who would have died from their injuries and have no living family are taken and given a second chance at life as cyborgs working for this agency.

These girls now possess superhuman strength and receive both weapons and tactics training. However, this is not without its drawbacks. Due to the trauma they sustained, the girls are forced to go through conditioning which makes them obedient to their “handlers,” adult agents who act as their superiors.

This conditioning makes the girls more obedient and efficient, but at the cost of their personality and memories. The level of conditioning received it decided by the handler of each girl so some girls have more extreme conditioning than others. The girls also form very strong, sometimes one-way bonds with their handlers because they are completely dependent on them.

Characters

While multiple of the girls are considered main characters, the one who is the primary character of the series is Henrietta. She is the girl with the most personality in the series, followed by Triela.

Henrietta has a fairly small amount of conditioning compared to some of the other girls because her handler sees her as a surrogate for his own sister. She also knows that she is treated better than the other girls because of this. However, her conditioning completely blocked out her memories from before joining the Social Welfare Agency because of how traumatic her circumstances were.

Triela is the oldest of the girls turned into cyborgs. She acts as a mentor to the other girls, but has issues of her own. Of all the girls, she’s the one who understands their situation the best and acts rebellious at times, even telling her handler to increase her conditioning if he doesn’t like her making her own choices.

In the second season of Gunslinger Girl, Triela becomes more of a main focus as she tries to make sense of whether or not her life has meaning anymore.

Rico is one of the girls who became a cyborg for the Social Welfare Agency without going through serious trauma. Instead, her cyborg body is a second chance at having a life she otherwise wouldn’t have had. Because of this, she does not have her memories erased. Even though she is treated harshly by her handler, she rarely shows any signs of being unhappy.

The final girl I’ll mention is Claes. She no longer goes on missions due to the death of her handler. Instead she lives in the dorms with the other girls, but helps with cyborg research rather than missions. New technologies are first tested on Claes before they are put into the field with the other girls.

Henrietta shooting her P90 out of a moving vehicle from the Gunslinger Girl anime
Henrietta shooting her P90

Conclusion

I watched the first season of Gunslinger Girl almost two years ago, but just watched the second season this past week because I decided it was finally time to finish it. Overall I think this series is a 4/10, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. It has some animation and voice acting which is awkward and not very good at times which are part of the reason for this low score.

One of the things I like least about Gunslinger Girl is that it’s an unfinished anime. While the manga continued on, the series didn’t get a season after the second and so the anime ends without getting all the way through the manga. I think if the anime was actually a complete version of the manga it would be a better series overall.

Seeing the conclusions for some of the character arcs would definitely make the series more enjoyable in my opinion. I’ll spoil some of the manga here to explain my point. During the series we see a lot of the relationship between Henrietta and her handler compared to the other girls and their handlers, but we don’t see the end of her story.

**Spoilers Ahead**

While the anime doesn’t get this far, Henrietta does eventually meet her end. Traumatic memories of her past cause her to accidentally shoot her handler. He knows he’s going to die due to his injuries and understands that Henrietta won’t be able to live without him, so they form a suicide pact and both kill each other.

The fact that Henrietta and her handler were able to die together by each other’s hands is the culmination of their relationship, but the anime never even got that far. If you’re familiar with some of my favorite anime, you’ll know that bittersweet endings such as that are my favorite which is why I’m so disappointed about this anime.

The second OP for the second season of Gunslinger Girl can be found here.

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Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime cover arts
Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Cover Arts

Overview

In honor of today’s big sportsball game I was going to review a sportsball anime, but then I remembered I’ve never watched a single sportsball anime in my life. So instead, we’re doing a long double feature of Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Fullmetal Alchemist is a story about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy. Needless to say, this goes wrong and Edward ends up losing an arm and a leg while Alphonse loses his entire body.

The rest of the anime follows the Elric brothers as they attempt to get their bodies back to their original states.

Fullmetal Alchemist is an interesting phenomenon. I think I would consider it an entry-level anime, but not quite as far down as the likes of Sword Art Online and Death Note. It’s definitely an anime people tend to watch towards the beginning of their anime watching career though.

The fact that it gets watched by anime newcomers isn’t what makes it so interesting though. What’s interesting is that usually the anime community is split regarding their feelings towards entry-level anime. You either love Sword Art Online and Death Note or you hate them.

With Fullmetal Alchemist it’s different. I think generally everyone agrees that it’s a great anime. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no big debate surrounding it. For Fullmetal Alchemist the debate is around which version is better, FMA or FMA:B as we’ll call them from here on out.

Version Differences

So to set up this debate we need to know a little bit about the backgrounds of FMA and FMA:B. FMA was released in 2003, making it the first version of the series. FMA:B came out in 2009.

Now you might be thinking that FMA:B is a sequel or prequel of some sort to FMA, but that’s not the case. It’s actually the “same” series done again. I put “same” in quotes because in reality it’s only around the first 12 or so episodes which are the same; after that the two anime diverge.

Why would there be two anime that start off the same and then split? Is this like the Fate series where there are multiple timelines?

Well, this split actually comes down to how the FMA anime was created. The first 12 episodes of each are the same because they each follow the manga up until that point. However, once FMA reached that point it had caught up to the manga which was still currently running.

Instead of putting the anime on hiatus or adding filler, the decision was made to continue on passed the manga by using an original story. This is where FMA:B comes in. While FMA used an original story past episode 12, FMA:B follows the story of the manga since it came out after the manga was completed.

Edward Elric using alchemy to transmute his automail arm into a weapon
Edward Elric

The Debate

Maybe you’re thinking that it’s great there are two series, that means there’s more content. And you’d be right except that this is anime we’re talking about. As anime fans we can’t just be happy that there’s more content, we need something to argue about.

I think it’s fair to say that most people prefer FMA:B over FMA. It’s the newer version so it does have better art and animation so it makes sense that people would gravitate toward that one just by appearance. Fans of FMA:B will also commonly say that since FMA:B is the one that follows the source material, the manga, it’s therefore the superior version.

Now I won’t hide my bias from you. I’m on the side of FMA, not FMA:B. But how could I like FMA more after those compelling arguments for FMA:B?

Honestly, I think it’s whichever version you watched first. I originally watched FMA and that’s the version I prefer; other people originally watched FMA:B and so they prefer that version.

But, I’m not going to say that FMA has nothing else going for it other than the fact that some people, like myself, watched it first. I wouldn’t be a true FMA fan if I couldn’t back up my claims with some other evidence.

Now, keep in mind that to the FMA:B fan this doesn’t count as real evidence because they tend to not want to hear it, but FMA has a better plot and story. While they won’t admit this, what people do seem able to agree on is that FMA is the darker of the two versions which I’ll go into later on in a spoiler section.

But how could FMA be the better story if it doesn’t even follow the source material? Well you see, there’s a simple reason called: just because something is source material, doesn’t mean it’s the best material. I know this concept is tough to grasp, but there can be an anime original story that is better than one based off source material.

Let’s use a non-anime example to illustrate this point. There are many movies in the Batman franchise and 2008’s The Dark Knight is generally seen as the best of them which we can probably attribute to Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker. However, The Dark Knight is by no means the closest Batman movie to the source material.

**Spoilers Ahead**

Plot Differences

Let’s start off with a difference between the versions which begins back in the first 12 episodes when they both follow the same source material. Shou Tucker is the infamous alchemist who created a chimera by fusing his daughter, Nina, and her dog.

In FMA:B he is killed around the same time as Nina and that concludes his arc. In FMA, however, we don’t actually see him die at that point in the anime and it’s later revealed that he was taken and turned into a chimera himself. By doing this, the Elric brothers, as well as the viewers, are reminded of what happened to Nina all those episodes ago.

Next let’s take a look at the homunculi. The names of some of the homunculi are different between the versions as well as who the homunculi are themselves. Lust, Greed, Gluttony, and Envy are basically the same in both versions, although Envy has a “true” form in FMA:B which is kind of stupid and doesn’t make much sense in my opinion.

The other three homunculi are different in various ways though. King Bradley is essentially the same in both versions except that he is known as Pride in FMA and Wrath in FMA:B. Since Bradley is Pride in FMA, that leaves the Wrath position open and it’s filled by a child homunculus. In FMA:B, since Bradley is Wrath, the name of Pride is taken by the original homunculus.

Sloth is the final homunculus which is different between the two versions. In FMA:B Sloth is a giant of a homunculus who digs tunnels while in FMA Sloth looks like the mother of the Elric brothers and works as the secretary to King Bradley.

These visual differences are not all though, the very nature of the homunculi is different in the two versions and it plays a part in why some of the homunculi look the way they do in FMA.

In FMA:B, the homunculi were created by a being known as Father which to me is a fairly boring concept. In FMA, however, a homunculus is created when someone attempts a human transmutation and fails.

This is why Sloth resembles the mother of the Elric brothers; she was created when they attempted to bring their mother back to life. This is also why Wrath is a child in FMA; he was created when the teacher of the Elric brothers attempted to bring her stillborn baby back to life.

The final difference we’ll look at is the ending. However, we won’t be looking at the movie for each version, just the series themselves.

FMA:B has a happy ending (lame). Edward and Alphonse get their bodies back and Edward ends up with Winry. Maybe you could tell, but I’m not a fan of happy endings simply for the sake of having a happy ending.

FMA has a bittersweet ending. Alphonse gets his body back, but it’s his body from when he originally lost it years before. Edward, however, is gone. He essentially traded himself for his brother and ends up on the “other side” which is actually our world.

He finds himself in the middle of one of the world wars; I forget which one, but I feel like it’s World War 1. Here Edward learns that the alchemy of his original world was actually powered by the energy of millions of people dying from our world.

Alphonse Elric
Alphonse Elric

Conclusion

So we learned that there are two versions of Fullmetal Alchemist and that I prefer FMA over FMA:B, but what does this mean for the rating? Well you see, I decided to give them both ratings of 9/10. Sure, I like FMA more, but really it’s hard to choose between the two.

If you haven’t watched either anime and are interested in them then my suggestion would be to watch FMA first and then move onto FMA:B if you liked it. I don’t say that because I want you to watch my preferred version first, but rather because FMA:B kind of expands off FMA.

FMA:B has all the characters you’ll meet in FMA, but then it also introduces even more characters who aren’t in the first version. FMA:B also looks better visually and so it may be harder to go from that back to FMA.

Finally, since this is a double feature I’ll link to the first OP of both versions and I’ll mention that I do prefer the OP from FMA:B. The OP for FMA can be found here (*this video has been taken down) and the OP for FMA:B can be found here.

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Texhnolyze

Texhnolyze

Texhnolyze Cover Art featuring Ran
Texhnolyze Cover Art

Overview

Texhnolyze takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a portion of the population lives underground, having been sent there generations prior to the start of the show.  The name Texhnolyze comes from how people are referred to who have robotic, artificial body parts.

The territory of the city is divided into a number of rival factions, each vying for total control of the city.  Meanwhile, there are other, independent agents trying to upset the balance in the city as well.

Texhnolyze was an interesting anime.  One of the most noticeable features is the complete lack of dialogue in many of the scenes.  For example, the first half of the first episode has no dialogue at all.

At first I found this to be a drawback of the show, but once you get farther in it becomes natural and you don’t notice it because completed the mood of the anime.  There are also certain characters, such as the main character, Ichise, who have very few lines of dialogue.

The biggest issue I had was that I had to watch this anime in 480p.  This was made even worse by the visuals of the OP which seem to have been made even blurrier as an artistic choice.

Factions

There are three main factions which fight for control of the city, Lux.  These are the Organo, the Salvation Union, and the Racan.

The Organo is essentially Lux’s version of the mafia.  They have ties to an underground (literally) criminal network, while maintaining a professional appearance on the outside.  They are in the business of Texhnolyzation.  Onishi, one of the heads of the Organo, is the notable character from this faction.

The Salvation Union is the main rival of the Organo since they are anti-Texhnolyzation.  This faction believes that Texhnolyzation is evil and that it is their mission to stop it from spreading.  If the Organo is the mafia, then the Salvation Union is a heavily armed militia.

Next, there is the Racan, the smallest of the three rival factions.  The Racan is more of a ragtag street gang compared to the other two factions.  They don’t really have anything they do or stand for in particular, but instead they seem to just do whatever they want.  Shinji is the leader of the Racan and the notable character from it.

Besides the three main factions in the city of Lux there are two other groups which are important to the story.  These are the people of Gabe and the Class.

The people of Gabe live on the outskirts of the city and follow a young girl, Ran, whom they refer to as the seer.  The seer is named such because of her ability to see one of many possible futures.  The people of Gabe live and die by the prophecies which the seer tells them.

The Seer, Ran, taking off her mask
The Seer, Ran

The final group is known as the Class.  These are a subset of the population from the surface who are the true ruling class of Lux.  Some of them live on the surface, others in between Lux and the surface in a place known as the Hill, and at least one lives in the city itself.  The Class is made up of highly Texhnolyzed individuals.

Conclusion

While Texhnolyze was a good anime, it was not without its issues.  The final act or two seemed to stray a bit too far from the rest of the show for my taste and the ending felt a bit rushed and incomplete, although maybe that was deliberate.  Overall I give Texhnolyze a 7/10.

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