30 Day Anime Challenge – Day 11: Favourite Mech Anime

This post is part of The 30 Day Anime Challenge Series alongside the Cosmic Anvil Kickstarter campaign. Click here to read the introduction, and click here to check out and support the campaign to help us fund the printing and distribution of our first collected volume of our manga-inspired comic series, Age of Revolution.


Jess Hardcastle Marketing Whizz Kid

Unfortunately I really haven’t seen any Mech anime, unless Digimon Adventure 2 counts when they use Armor Digivolution?

Armordigivolve2

Digi-Armour Energise!

Apologies! I did mention I still need to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion if that makes up for my lack of Mech anime knowledge!


Hannah Collins Co-Founder and Artist

Jess, you do need to watch more Mech anime (because its AWESOME) and you should certainly watch Neon Genesis Evangelion as it’s not only my favourite Mech anime, but it’s also my favourite anime series ever.

Neon Gensis Evangelion mech anime manga anno shinji asuka rei 30 day anime challenge cosmic anvil

Neon Genesis Evangelion

What do I say about this insane masterpiece of an anime that hasn’t already been said?

The basic (and I mean basic) story follows 14-year-old Shinji Ikari in a post-apocalyptic re-built version of Tokyo, fifteen years after a global cataclysm wiped out a huge chunk of human civilisation. Shinji discovers he is one a handful of teenagers – that includes two girls called Asuka and Rei – destined to pilot the giant Eva mechs to ward off the earth from intermittent attacks from alien/supernatural beings known as ‘Angels’. The base of operations for the Eva pilots is NERV, which turns out to be headed up by Shinji’s absent, creepy father, Gendo. Their mission? To prevent another catastrophe from happening. Or at least, that’s part of their mission…

The history of the show’s creation is a lesson in exceeded expectations. Animation studio Gainax originally commissioned just a run-of-the-mill Mech anime from director Hideki Anno, and what Anno produced was an infuriatingly intricate thesis on theology, philosophy, psychology, and the nature of human existence that fans still obsess over to this day, fifteen years after it’s release. Evangelion went on to dramatically redefine and rejuvenate a well-established genre – not to mention become one of the most critically and commercially successful anime ever (the franchise has generated a whopping 150 billion yen so far).

Kaworu Shinji Eva 13 neon genesis evangelion mech anime manga anno 30 day anime challenge cosmic anvil

Co-Pilots Kaworu and Shinji inside the Eva 13 (Rebuild).

The Mech in Evangelion were also revolutionary for the genre. Far more than just suits or robots, they’re biologically fuelled and biologically linked to their pilots, which also unfortunately means that their pain is shared by their pilots. A similar idea that inspired Guillermo del Toro’s Jaeger mechs in his 2013 film Pacific Rim. In fact, the Evas are so animalistic that they can even break free of their pilots’ control by entering ‘berserk’ mode – which looks exactly as you’d expect:

Mech anime are always set in world’s in turmoil. After all, you don’t really need a Mech in a time of peace, do you? What raises Evangelion above others of the genre is not only it’s grand scope, but the relatable (if not melodramatically heightened) angst of its teenage characters. Haunted by abandonment, depression, and severe insecurity, Shinji is one of the most emotionally unstable heroes I’ve ever come across.

You really do feel the weight of the world’s survival constantly balancing on his tiny shoulders, and he continually seems ready to be happily crushed by it just to make all the nightmare-fuelling trauma stop.

Honourable mentions: The Big OCode Geass, Eureka 7, Guilty Crown.


Huw Williams CO-Founder and Writer

I don’t watch a lot of Mech anime, which is surprising as I do love Mechs. A a kid, pretending that I was in a giant robot was the norm, thanks to my breakfast consisting of cereal, juice and Power Rangers. I think the few that I have watched have been pretty good, and my favourite is probably one of the most underrated animes out there: The Big O.

The Big O.

The Big O.

The Big O is set in Paradigm City, a New York-styled city that has been contained under huge domes. Forty years ago, a mysterious event took place that erased everyone’s memories. In this world of amnesia, Roger Smith assumes the role of a negotiator for the city and fights crime with his two partners: an android by the name of Dorothy and his Butler, Gordon. But if the occasion calls for it, Roger calls out the secret third member of his team – the giant robot Big O!

Epic Team Up

Roger calls Big O with his watch.

The Big O is a crazy mix of Film Noir and Mech anime. The aesthetic style is also very rooted in the 50s/60s, taking inspiration from Toho’s Kaiju movies and Western Detective dramas. This mix of genres makes Big O a really interesting watch as the story has a good balance of investigative work and giant robot battles. Roger is also one of the coolest protagonists in anime: slick and stylish, a bachelor in the James Bond mold, and a mysterious past which slowly gets unlocked as time goes on.

The action is awesome as well. For an anime that makes you think hard, it pays you back tenfold with awesome giant robot fights!

Big O Vs. Big Fau

Big O Vs. Big Fau

Big O is an awesome Mech as well: it’s strong, it’s quite nimble for a steampunk design, and it packs a ton of weapons as well. The bond between Big O and Roger is interesting as well. There are times when the scene that is shot in a way that makes the mech look as if it’s expressionless face is emitting some sort of emotion, and you do get the feeling the Big O and Roger are brothers in arms and have some sort of spiritual relationship like Ed and Al in Full Metal Alchemist. I highly recommend this anime to anyone who loves mech, but get ready to have your mind messed with.


Written by The Cosmic Anvil Team.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology! And if you want to join the fight to get the AGE OF REVOLUTION Volume printed check out our Kickstarter page

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30 Day Anime Challenge – Day 9: Best Anime Villain

This post is part of The 30 Day Anime Challenge Series alongside the Cosmic Anvil Kickstarter campaign. Click here to read the introduction, and click here to check out and support the campaign to help us fund the printing and distribution of our first collected volume of our manga-inspired comic series, Age of Revolution.


[SPOILER ALERT: There will be spoilers about certain anime in this post!]

Jess Hardcastle Marketing Whizz Kid

Most of the anime I have seen have all had really interesting and evil villains in them so it’s hard to pick the best one, but I think I am going to have to go with Shou Tucker from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Whilst he never actually killed anyone [SPOILER ALERT] he did use alchemy to turn his own daughter and their dog into a talking chimera – which is pretty awful! I was genuinely shocked and upset at his ability to be able to harm them. This is also after he did the same thing to his own wife and that chimera only said, “Kill me”, and refused to eat – basically committing suicide after it couldn’t deal with the pain and suffering of what he’d turned her into.

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Shou Tucker, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Honorable mentions: Lucy (Elfen Lied), Light Yagami (Death Note) and ALL the Titans (Attack On Titan).


Hannah Collins Co-Founder and Artist

This may seem like an obvious choice, but I have go with Light Yagami from Death Note for my favourite anime villain. There’s plenty of big, bad villains out there in the world of anime to choose from, but what makes Light particularly interesting for me is the fact that he is the protagonist of the story – a role traditionally played by the hero, not the hero’s nemesis.

Light Yagami Death Note anime manga 30 day anime challenge cosmic anvil

Light Yagami, Death Note

Just by seeing the story through Light’s eyes, your opinion of him is constantly coloured by his perspective. Despite his actions as a sociopathic megalomaniac are completely psychotic and morally reprehensible, you also find yourself kind of willing him to not get caught so you can see just how far the story will be pushed. The tension you feel each time Light finds himself cornered is ridiculously compelling, and unlike most Shonen anime – which relies on brawn rather than brain and an assured victory for the hero nearly every time – Death Note’s battles of wits and magic keep you genuinely guessing who will be left alive by the end.

Light Yagami L detective death note manga anime 30 day anime challenge cosmic anvil

Light Vs. L

Conversely, you also find yourself rooting for his opponent – the eccentric detective known only as ‘L’, which heightens the tension even more. Whenever these two are in a room together, the thrill of watching them verbally – and occasionally physically – dance around each other is akin to that of Sherlock and Moriaty.

I always think that the strength of a hero can be measured by the strength of their villain, and Light and L are definitely two sides of the same brilliant coin, and Death Note one of the greatest crime thrillers in modern fiction.

Honourable mentions: Lust, Envy, Shou Tucker and Father (Full Metal Alchemist & Brotherhood), Medusa (Soul Eater), Vicious (Cowboy Bebop), The Earl (D.Gray-Man), Siegfried (Sacred Blacksmith), Gendo Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion), The Puppet Master (Ghost in the Shell).


Huw Williams CO-Founder and Writer

A great villain for me has to be many things: they have to be evil (obvious, but true), they have to be powerful, and they have to be perfectly matched to their protagonist counterpart; and as much as you hate them, you also have to love them. But, a truly great villain for me must also have a huge impact on the story that they star in, and it’s for these reasons that my favourite villain is Frieza from the Dragon Ball franchise.

Frieza

Frieza, Dragon Ball franchise

Friza is powerful and likes to let you know that he is. His power is feared by many throughout the universe and during the lead up to Goku’s battle with Frieza, King Kai commands Goku not to fight Frieza as he will surely be killed because Frieza’s power enables him to destroy whole planets with just one blast.

Frieza isn’t alone in the planet destroyers club that is DBZ, but he still stands out. Frieza is regarded as one of the most, if not the most, important Dragon Ball villains. After all, it was Frieza who destroyed the Saiyan home world Planet Vegeta – the event that starts the whole Dragon Ball story as that was how Goku ended up on Earth. Frieza’s actions on Planet Namek were also the major catalyst for Goku’s Super Saiyan transformation, as after Frieza killed Krillin Goku’s rage and needed to be more powerful spilled over, resulting in one of the most iconic scenes in anime. Frieza himself started the trend of transformations as well:

Squad's out.

Squad’s out.

He’s powerful, he’s iconic, and most importantly: he’s also pure evil to the core. He’s seeking the Dragon Balls to gain immortality and he was willing to do anything to get them. When faced against Goku he had met his match and was willing to do anything to beat him. He will do anything, and everything he does is for himself. The worst thing of all was when he was forgiven by Goku, who also gave him enough energy to escape the dying Planet Namek, Frieza chose to use that power to try and kill Goku again. This was when Goku launched his final attack and killed Frieza. Even when he was given a second chance he still chose to kill Goku, proving that his hatred for the Saiyan race and Goku burns stronger than his need for survival.

Yet you also can’t help but like him: he’s so devilishly evil that he almost becomes a cartoonish villain in the Disney mold of Scar (Lion King) or Jafar (Aladdin). He’s so well liked that Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball‘s creator) brought him back in the most resent film, and with a new form. It’s also rumored that Toriyama was going to bring Frieza back after the Cell saga, but was advised by his editors not to. Frieza’s cool, powerful, and fabulous. What more do you want from a villain?

Come at me.

Come at me, BRAH.


Written by The Cosmic Anvil Team.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology! And if you want to join the fight to get the AGE OF REVOLUTION Volume printed check out our Kickstarter page!

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N00b Reviews: Death Note

After falling in love with the Death Note anime I have decided to look at the manga series to see how it compares.  I found the story really compelling and the opening theme of the anime strangely hypnotic…

cover


Summary:

Death Note is a manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The story follows protagonist Light Yagami, a student with great prospects but unsatisfied with his life. This all changes when he finds a notebook that has the powers to kill people dropped by a rogue Shinigami named Ryuk. Light vows to use the powers of the book to kill criminals, but when the authorities discover the pattern they send the legendary detective ‘L’ to track down the killer.


First Impressions:

I don’t think I’ve seen any other manga in the N00b series so far that is as wordy as Death Note is. It feels like it should be a novel rather than a manga series as it needs a lot of descriptive text to explain things such as the theories behind using the notebook, which seem to be too complex to describe simply using images.

wordy

Does it really need to be specified where he sits?


What I liked:

One thing that particularly stood out to me about Death Note was the fact that even though the protagonist is an anti-hero we still end up rooting for him despite him killing millions of people even when they are innocent. We can’t help but side with him as we believe in his cause and the fact the reason he is doing it is for a greater good; to rid the world of criminals.

Light and L

At the same time we admire L for his attempts to catch Kira (Light’s alter ego) and enjoy how mysterious and quirky he is. The central plot of Death Note revolves around the cat and mouse chase between L and Light, and this element is what makes this manga so engrossing; waiting to see how the two of them will try to out-think the other.


What I disliked:

As I’ve stated one of the major flaws with the Death Note manga was the fact that it was very wordy and often felt like it should be a novel rather than a manga series. The other thing that I was slightly disappointed with was the second half of the manga series as a lot of the main cast changes and the new characters feel a lot weaker. Although despite this the plot tricks and twists are just as good in this half – in fact some of the better ones happen towards the end.


How does it compare to the anime:

 The anime gets off to a great start with this brilliant opening sequence:

Stunning visuals, addictive theme song, and the fact that it spans over 37 episodes and still keeps you interested. What’s not to love about this adaptation?

With long-running anime series there can often be a lot of filler episodes but with Death Note this isn’t the case at all and leaves very little out from the manga which is definitely very satisfying to see.


Overall Opinion:

 This series is simple enough to understood universally no matter of age, but at the same time deep and clever enough for those looking for something more meaty to sink their teeth into. Additionally, this series offers something that not many other series do–a moral conundrum. What if we had a Death Note? Would we use it? How would we use it? Is it possible to use it without turning into what Light becomes?

If you’re a seasoned anime fan or a N00b like myself I think this is a series you should definitely check out. Especially if you enjoy a mix of mystery, horror and crime thriller.


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!

Batman vs. Predator by Dave Gibbons

I love cross overs and I love Vs. Comics, so when I was given this little gem as a kid my young geek heart almost exploded. A friend of the family popped over to my house to see my parents, and when he was clearing out his son’s bedroom he had found a pile of unwanted comics (unwanted comics..? Really?) He handed over the stack of comics to me, simply saying “You like comics, right?” In this collection there were some strange finds I’d never heard of at the time: Captain Britain, Spawn, and even an Alien comic in which the military had created a robotic alien to fight for them but for some reason this Alien liked to smoke cigars, drink and swear. Hmmm. I looked at the cover of the next comic: Batman vs Predator…I decided to read this one first.

Batman vs Predator is a great Batman comic – starting off with a typical ‘Whodunnit?’ storyline for the world’s greatest detective to solve. In Gotham, there are a number of Prize Fighters who have been mysteriously killed. Everyone suspects it’s due to the rival gangs who own the boxers, but Batman suspects something far more sinister (as usual.) The story then evolves into an alien invasion story when Batman is ambushed by The Predator. It is revealed that The Predator is behind the murders, and Batman starts to duke it out with the grotesque alien. However, this alien is unlike anything Batman has ever faced before; Batman is injured and goes into hiding. The story continues down the alien invasion route for a short time, and now that Batman is gone, the Predator continues his hunting trip in Gotham.

Batman vs Predator dave gibbons cosmic anvil recommends comic DC

Ultimate Showdown.

The story then takes another turn, becoming a story based on the great battle of strength and wit between The Batman and The Predator. Batman is still injured, but fit enough to walk. He constructs a new suit, strong enough to take the beast on. Batman calls out The Predator to a final battle, and when the fight breaks out, it’s a real struggle for both combatants, and reduces them to some pretty dirty stuff, but in the end, Batman is victorious. The end of the comic is cool for both Batman and Predator fans. Batman wins, so Batman fans are happy; we also get a glimpse of the wider universe and culture that The Predator is a part of, so Predator fans are happy too.

It did really well with fans and critics too – in fact, it was so popular at the time it also spawned two sequels and a similar comic called Superman vs. Aliens known as Superman/Aliens (Lolwut?)

Batman vs Predator dave gibbons cosmic anvil recommends comic DC

The Dark Knight in his Predator Hunter suit.

The art is amazing as well, as you’d expect from a legend like Gibbons. Through the artwork he shows you how dirty and grim the setting and events are. We even get a superb scene with Alfred facing off against the hunter alien.

As you can tell I think this comic is amazing, and to find out that it did really well when it came out is also cool. The thing I will always remember about this comic is this: I read the last page and I was amazed – amazed that The Batman once again stood up to a powerful opponent, and smacked him down. Bruce’s final words in the comic resonated with me for some times as well, it’s one of those moments when you think to yourself: “Batman is so nails” (nails meaning strong, as in hard as…)

Batman vs Predator dave gibbons cosmic anvil recommends comic DC

So nails.

However I will always remember this, when I finished the comic, I closed the book and turned it over to once again examine the front cover. I read the title “Batman versus Predator”, and then I thought to myself: “But… why though?”


Written by Huw Williams of the Huw’s Reviews Blog.

Follow Huw on Twitter @Big_Huw

Don’t forget to also check out the official Cosmic Anvil website to find out more about our independent comic book series, Age of Revolution!