Tag Archives: sakura

Review: Naruto (Volume 3) (2004) Manga | My Reviews 20 AUG 2012

Naruto is a ninja-in-training with an incorrigible knack for mischief. His wild antics amuse his teammates, but Naruto is completely serious about one thing: becoming the world’s greatest ninja!

Dreams – Naruto’s sensei Kakashi believes that the diabolical Zabuza survived their last battle. Now, in anticipation of their enemy’s return, Kakashi puts Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke through rigorous training programs to increase their focus and control. This time, their job of protecting the old bridge builder Tazuna and his family will be a hundred times more difficult!

After a very much action-packed Volume 2, Naruto Volume 3 slows down the pace considerable for the first two thirds or so, focussing on special chakra training for the trio of young ninja, giving us a little more insight into their characters. At the same time we are given a little more background surrounding the people, location, and situation that Kakashi and his group find themselves in, all of which helps to build up to a very explosive last third of the book, where all out, over the top fighting between the ninja takes centre stage once more! (Ending as expected on quite the cliffhanger!)

Author/Artist Masashi Kishimoto once again effortlessly combines his slapstick humor, drama and action to produce a wonderful page-turner of a manga volume, and when combined with his masterful artwork which is so full detail, emotion and action, never mind his superb bringing to life of all the slapstick humor he throws around, makes for an addictive and fun read that any action comedy Shonen fan will be sure to love.

Definitely a recommended way to spend a lazy afternoon!

Related Link: Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto

Review: Naruto Shippuden: The Movie (2007) Anime | My Reviews 22 DEC 2011

I’ve been away from the Naruto franchise for quite a number of years now, and on a spur of the moment decision, decided to pick up Naruto Shippuden: The Movie to give it a spin just for the fun of it. Disappointingly, I found nothing had changed since I last left the series.

Again, the movie is nothing more than a money spinner to empty the wallets of already loyal Naruto fans, and certainly doesn’t do anything for new viewers who might not be all that familiar with the franchise – no character development, no lasting impacts, no real substance – just a lot of varied, over the top fight scenes. However, that said, once again it is an enjoyable standalone adventure with all the classic Naruto humour and action which fans of the series are sure to enjoy – so based on that alone, I would have to say it’s a success then!

The plot revolves around a ninjutsu user who unseals a powerful entity which has previously attempted to destroy the world with its fearsome and unstoppable terracotta army. The protagonist has the entity’s soul locked in his own body, and is now on a race against time to reunite it with its sealed away physical body before the priestess of the Land of Ogres has a chance to destroy it.

This threat is big enough to mobilise all the lands, and Naruto’s Team 7 is no exception, as they are joined by Neji and Rock Lee and tasked with protecting and escorting the priestess to the site of the body in order to prevent the destruction of everything! Just one thing though. The priestess has visions of the future and her latest premonition is simple – Naruto is going to die, and nothing can change this destiny!

Other than some beautifully rendered backgrounds, the animation for the movie is very much the same standard used for the television series, which means it doesn’t stand out as being special at all. Don’t get me wrong, it is pretty decent, but certainly not of the high quality one would expect from a movie outing. One negative thing to note though is the terrible CG used for the terracotta army, coming across as really cheap and low budget and quite honestly, spoiling some of the fight sequences towards the end of the movie.

Soundtrack on the other hand is fantastic, with solid voice acting from all the usual actors and actresses.

Overall, if you are familiar with the Naruto world and enjoy the franchise, then this is certainly worth watching, though as per usual don’t expect anything other than pure Naruto action from it – certainly nothing to affect the main timeline will be taking place. For people outside of the fanbase, this isn’t the best of movies to pick up because it offers so little, but as it goes, if you do like some over the top ninja with unrealistic abilities going at one another, then maybe you’ll get a kick out of it too.

As for me, well ‘meh’ is probably the best way to describe it. Not bad, but I could have continued my hiatus from the franchise and still missed nothing! :P

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto_Shippuden:_the_Movie

Naruto (Volume 2) Manga | My Reviews 02 NOV 2010

The Worst Client – Tired of menial tasks, Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura ask for a tougher assignment. But you should always be careful what you wish for! Along with their sensei, Kakashi, the trio must now guard a cranky old man from the Land of Waves. But Tazuna the bridge builder is in more danger than anyone could have imagined. And now the young ninja are too!

Volume 2 of Masashi Kishimoto’s smash hit Naruto continues where the first left off, with the result of the gruelling test young Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura just endured through finally announced. These new genin ninja are now officially a team and so need to undertake missions given to them by the village, in order for it to stay alive.

However, as you can imagine, the missions granted to low level ninja are pretty mundane and pretty soon Naruto can’t take this complete lack of serious action – which of course always means trouble for whoever is meant to be reigning him in.

His actions do however result in a new mission being assigned to the team, a slightly higher level task but still one that should fall well within the young team’s capabilities. A simple escort mission back to the Land of Waves.

Unfortunately, the problem with people is that they lie, and one such person just happens to be the cranky old man they and Kakashi have been hired to escort – with rather dire consequences.

Because quite frankly, the man who wants to stop the old man wants him dead. And will use whatever force he can lay his hands on to achieve this!

As you can tell from the synopsis, Volume 2 is for much of its page count a complete and utter knuckle sandwich of a fight, pitting our young and very inexperienced ninjas against some truly fearsome foes. Of course at this early point in their careers, Kakashi has to deal with most of the violence while the youngsters need to find it in themselves as to whether or not they are capable of taking part in real, life on the line combat.

Of course, blended in with all of this is Kishimoto’s trademark humour and as such the story never gets overwhelmingly dark, yet it handles some fantastic character development as it progresses, making for an absolutely thrilling and meaningful journey from start to finish.

As per usual Kishimoto’s pencils are absolutely fantastic as he easily plows through varying degrees of action, comedy and drama, bringing in loads of tone to the story being told. His characters and backgrounds are all beautifully detailed and he manages to masterfully mix the super deformed silly moments with the gut wrenching action that seems to keep one glued to the pages.

In summary, this is the perfect volume to follow up what was a great first volume in the series, and well, well worth picking up if you enjoy your action, comedy and all things over the top ninja!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 5) Manga | My Reviews 25 JUL 2008

Tsubasa 5The End of a Fairy Tale: Following the trail of the stolen children of Spirit Town, Sakura is captured at the forbidden castle, where she encounters the golden-haired ghost! Syaoran and his friends – the sociable magician Fai D. Flowright, the master swordsman Kurogane, and the odd creature Mokona – must now penetrate the ancient stronghold in order to rescue Sakura and the missing children. Will they finally uncover the truth behind the legend of Princess Emerald? And will they recover another fragment of Sakura’s lost memory?

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE tells the story of the strong-willed Syaoran, the easygoing magician Fai D. Flowright, the conflict-hungry warrior Kurogane and the strange creature called Mokona, who have all banded together in order to trek across the various alternate planes of existence in the hopes of collecting all of the scattered and missing feathers that make up the soul and memories of Princess Sakura, the former love interest of Syaoran. Of course, in order to gain the ability to make the crossing to all of these new and exciting worlds, each one of the group had to make a deal with the dimension-spanning witch Yuko (from xxxHOLIC), which in turn cost each and every one of them the something that they held most dear. Now stripped of the things most important to them, our heroic trio plus the helpless Sakura must plunge headfirst into dimensional portal after dimensional portal in the hopes that Mokona can lead them to that which they seek the most – Sakura’s magical feathers!

Volume 5 of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE puts us firmly back on track within CLAMP’s mammoth alternate universe-spanning mega-adventure, with the conclusion of the Spirit Town arc which last left us with a mystery as to the village’s rapidly disappearing children as well as the eventual capture and incarceration of Sakura herself! The plot thickens as Syaoran and the rest of the team scramble to solve the mystery of the missing children and in so doing, rescue Sakura from her unknown captor! Meanwhile, Sakura herself is slowly but surely uncovering just what has been happening in the mysterious castle that taunts them so, including the real truth behind the legend of Princess Emerald!

Following on the Spirit Town story arc, the next location to which our intrepid band is spirited off to is a country known as Oto, a seemingly peaceful paradise that seems to suffer from only one small problem – dangerous shadow-like Oni! And seeing as Mokona does sense the power of a feather somewhere within the city, the group is here to stay for a while – meaning that each and every one of them will need to get a job in order to make some money for living expenses!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, basically it is currently the longest-running manga serialization from the super popular CLAMP group of mangaka ladies, a project so big that it pulls in characters and situations from throughout their numerous smash hit titles from before. (And if you don’t know what CLAMP is in fact responsible for, take a look at this list: Magic Knight Rayearth, Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, Angelic Layer, X/1999 and xxxHOLIC!)

The tone for this volume follows the usual sadness, angst and drama that the previous Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE story arcs have carried, but as usual it is sprinkled throughout with doses of feel good moments, humorous situations and a lot of non-stop action and fighting sequences. This volume fairs better than the previous volume in that it comes across as a more action-orientated journey and because it features the conclusion to at least one story arc, makes it feel a slightly more complete experience. Of course, CLAMP also manage to keep loyal readers interested by introducing some new shadowy figures into the bigger picture and then managing to turn everything around on its head once again by introducing a completely new world for us to explore and makes us salivate in anticipation for the next volume that is to come.

Artistically, CLAMP continues with their distinctive elongated proportions but back these sometimes odd looking poses with some beautiful and heavy line work that adds tons of atmosphere to the proceedings. Despite the heavy line work, CLAMP puts a lot of detail into their characters, especially their rather varied outfits, making for some very fine visuals indeed. Their background scenery on the other hand continues to be fairly sparse, but at least when they do bother to put in some background detail, it does admittedly look pretty damn good.

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Volume 5 is a solid addition to this epic storyline that CLAMP are in the process of crafting and manages to satisfy almost all types of readers out there, from action to angst to humour seekers, while at the same time managing to retain that certain something that has made almost all CLAMP works as popular as they are. It looks good, it reads easily enough, and so to sum it all up – what are you waiting for? Go and pick it up already!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 2) Manga | My Reviews 30 MAY 2008

Tsubasa Volume 2Syaoran, Fai, Kurogane and Mokona venture to the Hanshin Republic to find one of the missing pieces of Sakura’s memory, transformed into magically powerful feathers. There, Syaoran meets his ‘Kudan’: a fierce wolf-spirit whose fiery power mirrors Syaoran’s personal strength. But with foes like a pop idol who sings words of pain, Syaoran’s hunt for feathers is no child’s game! And even if he finds the feathers, will Sakura ever wake up from her magical sleep? And since Syaoran bargained away their relationship in a pact with a witch, can their love ever return to the way it was?

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNICLE tells the story of Syaoran a young, focused warrior that witnesses his beloved Sakura’s soul and memories get literally pulled out from her body and dispersed in the form of magical feathers across the different planes of existence, rendering her unconscious and lost to this world. Joined by the enigmatic Fai D. Flowright and powerful Kugane, and with the help of the trans-dimensional witch Yuko and her pet Mokona, Syaoran sets out on his quest to cross into the various dimensions that exist in search of Sakura’s feathers in the hopes of one day restoring her back to the way she was. But to complicate matters, each dimension has its own set of rules and the people (and creatures) have their own set of abilities, making this anything but a walk in the park. And then of course there is the question of the sacrifices that the trio needed to make in order get Yuko to agree to help them in the first place…

Volume 2 sees our group in the Hanshin Republic where everyone has their own familiar spirit, called a ‘Kudan’ and of course, bored as always, certain groups of youngsters have started to organise turf wars using their Kudan as living weapons. The problem that Syaoran and the group face however is far more perplexing: Mokona can’t quite seem to get a fix on Sakura’s feather at the moment! It can sense it appearing sporadically but then it disappears again, making the search even more difficult than what it already is. Luckily the group has met some helpful locals to help out, but to be honest, the search for the first feather is looking more than a little bleak at the moment!

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNICLE is the work of legendary ,mangaka group CLAMP, responsible for some of the most well known manga titles out here in the West. Previous credits include Chobits, X/1999, CardCaptor Sakura, xxxHOLIC and Magic Knight Rayearth. These four ladies started out producing doujinshi (fan fiction) but soon word of their work caught on and because it was of such a high standard, they quickly began to make a name for themselves in the professional world. As it is, they are currently publishing three ongoing titles in Japan, namely Tsubasa, xxxHOLIC and Gohou Drug.

As with all their other writing, Tsubasa finds that perfect mix of drama and comedy but as an extra bonus, it comes with a more than generous smattering of action scenes as we get to see Fai, Syaoran and Kurogane put through their paces, even if it is with the aid of their Kugan familiars. The writing is pretty simple to follow but does a great job in dragging you in and capturing your imagination. Dramatic and more than a little heart sore in places, there is a clever little twist lying in wait for you as well, so look out for that!

On the artistic front, CLAMP have left their highly detailed style from their earlier works behind and instead gone for a slightly rougher with heavier outlines look, putting a lot of attention in extending their characters’ basic proportions, going for a distinctive ‘lanky’ look which has now become a trademark of their new style. A lot of background detail are also present and to sum it all up, Tsubasa can only be described as a visual treat. Detailed, beautiful and flowing, it is quite difficult to take your eyes for even a second off the work that the girls have come up with here.

In short, Tsubasa is well written, contains loads of action, drama and comedic moments to satisfy any manga reader and to top it all off, looks simply fantastic as well! A great piece of escapist fantasy and easily recommendable to anyone, be it your avid manga fan or a total newcomer to this fantastic genre.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 4) Manga | My Reviews 25 APR 2008

Tsubasa Volume 4A fairy tale turned nightmare! Young Syaoran embarks on a worlds-spanning adventure to restore the memory of the most important person in his life, the princess Sakura – even though he knows that she’ll never remember her love for him. The trail leads to a small town reminiscent of Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, a place where the ghostly image of a golden-haired woman comes in the night to steal the town’s children. Syaoran and his band of outrageous friends – affable Fai D. Flowright, loose cannon Kurogane, the odd creature Mokona, and Sakura herself – mount their horses and venture into forbidding, barren woods to solve a mystery, rescue the children, and retrieve one more piece of Sakura’s missing memories.

Volume 4 of RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE puts us back squarely into Syaron’s tragic quest of regaining the memories of his most beloved person at the cost of her memory of him. So far Tsubasa has been an epic quest that draws together virtually every character ever created by super mangaka group CLAMP, and certainly has been anything but a disappointment.

With the emergence of the released Kiishim and the subsequent disposal of the corrupt Ryanban, the groups adventure in Koryo draws to a close and they have to say yet another farewell to the people who they have just helped out. After a short unsuccessful trip to a rather misty world which Syaoran has to explore from the bottom of a lake, the new territory that Mokona transports them to seems to be a place and era that is very much based on middle Europe during the beginning of the 19th century.

Fitting into the era is an easy enough task thanks to the amazing luck Sakura inadvertently has at gambling, but finding a trace of Sakura’s feather is proving to be not quite so simple. The only problem is that as wandering travelers, Syaoran and the group aren’t exactly welcome thanks to the current disappearing children phenomenon. Already suspicious and in the throes of grief for the missing children, the villagers aren’t exactly welcoming the group with open arms – particularly when it is Sakura who claims to have seen this ‘golden-haired princess’ that is said to be abducting the children…

The notoriously media shy, four women strong CLAMP group is responsible for Tsubasa and to date this is probably their most ambitious piece of work ever. Already famous across the globe for their titles such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Chobits, Cardcaptor Sakura, Angelic Layer, X/1999 and xxxHolic, CLAMP needs little introduction to the legions of manga fans the world over.

This fourth installment in the Tsubasa quest wraps up Syaoran and the gang’s Koryo adventure and immediately shifts its attention to the new location and as such the majority of writing for this volume is used to set the tone, mood and story for this new area. As it is, the story is told in heavier overtones that is befitting of the overall tone of the Tsubasa series and despite the frequent insertions of random comedic moments usually featuring the overactive Mokan terrorizing poor old Kurogane, Tsubasa comes across as a rather heavy drama with a lot of angst experienced by the various characters.

Because there are almost no action sequences the story tends to move a little slowly and by the end of the book you can’t help but feel a little cheated that you were forced to read for so long without getting a decent conclusion or anything along those lines by the end of the story. Still, the dialogue is all well written and the character dynamics are well-worked and the little comedic moments are more than sufficient to break the tension and get you to smile every now and then.

As always CLAMP’s signature level of detail in the character designs and their strange, elongated proportions dominate the visual aspect of this book, but it must be said that the art for this volume is certainly not as strong as a person would like to see. Backgrounds are very scant as always and the strange proportions look really poor on certain characters in certain frames, serving only to highlight the shortcomings of the artist on that particular shot. The linework employed is bold and solid, but sometimes this works against CLAMP as the artword feels a little oversimplified in places. Funnily enough though, thanks to the actual lack of action sequences this is one of the clearer CLAMP releases to actually follow and there is little in the way of art that forces you to turn the book upside down to try and see what is going on, a problem that is often apparent in their work where heavy action sequences interact with their particular take on physical proportions.

And as gorgeous as the usual character models (and backgrounds when they are actually present) are, the departure to the deformed and simplified sketches used for the comedic background bits are just as masterfully done and so fun that you will often find yourself sniggering at those little touches going on in the background of the main scene.

Volume 4 is an essential part of setting the scene for the story arc to come, but as it is, the problematic straddling of both the previous and upcoming story arcs means that this volume is a little devoid of action and as such moves at a rather slow and uninteresting pace. Sure all the usual trademark CLAMP is here, but because of all the story elements being outlined, this volume really comes across as nothing more than a gap filler, designed to try and hook you so that you will buy the next volume just to see what is going to happen next. If you are already in the middle of the Tsubasa saga then it is a must read, but it certainly is not the best jumping on point for anyone new to the series.

A little slow and devoid of action, volume 4 is still a solid piece of work, only it is probably best suited to those people already well stuck into the unfolding epic storyline.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (Volume 3) Manga | My Reviews 03 APR 2008

Tsubasa Volume 3Can pure determination defeat a master magician? Sakura is awake, but she remembers almost nothing – certainly not Syaoran, who has sacrificed everything to help her. Accompanied by the happy-go-lucky Fai, the intense Kurogane, and the strikingly odd creature Mokona Modoki, Sakura and Syaoran make their way into a new universe where a traveling magician has suddenly become frighteningly powerful and is terrorizing an entire town. Only a few independent-minded stragglers remain to battle for control of their own lives. Fai, the lone magician in the group, traded his magical powers to the dimension witch, xxxHOLiC’s Yuko, before the journey started. Without a weapon with which to fight, can the extraordinary group of friends defeat a master magician who can control the Earth’s elements?

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle is the longest running manga serialization from the super popular CLAMP ladies whom basically anyway who calls themselves a manga fan should know about. Volume 3 of Tsubasa continues the adventures of the unlucky Syaoran who is continuing on his heartbreaking quest to try and help retrieve Sakura’s feathers, the embodiment of her soul and memories that have been scattered across countless dimensions. Their latest dimension jump lands them thick in the middle of trouble and before long Syaoran and the rest of the team get dragged into that’s world’s politics as they befriend a young woman and end up taking on the corrupt self-imposed leader who may or may not have one of Sakura’s feathers at his disposal.

As per usual, the writing style for CLAMP constantly switches from high drama, to heady romance, to action, to quirky one-liners, to all out humour. The storytelling is as touching as what it is humorous and still manages to switch up gears into all out action mode. Volume 3 ends up being a thoroughly enjoyable volume that covers all the bases and pushes Syaoran and the gang headfirst into yet another trans-dimensional action adventure and leaves you waiting in anticipation for the next volume thanks to the cliffhanger at the end.

Visually, Tsubasa carries the trademark elongated character models and it is a style that marks it distinctively as being a CLAMP creation, even if it takes a little while to begin appreciating their unique take on proportion. That said, the line work is as fluid and detailed as always and the entire manga oozes skill and hard work. The fighting scenes in particular are rather well done, and the artists go to great lengths to depict fairly accurate stances and techniques – which is particularly nice if you consider the story is taking place in a fantasy realm.

As always, the highly detailed “normal” artwork gets injected with a lot of deformed characters for the humour sake, but the meld between story and art is so good that the deformed sequences feel completely as if they were meant to be there in the first place.

Tsubasa continues the great work laid out in the first two volumes and seeing as it still continues today, you know it is going to continue growing and evolving into something special from this point onwards. It is a touching, action packed story that contains more than enough humour to prevent it from being dragged down to being just a plain, emotional action drama story and instead gives you something light and fluffy but at the same time substantial enough that you will fall in love with the characters and enjoy a thoroughly entertaining escape from reality.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsubasa_Reservoir_Chronicle