Anime Reviews

OVA Review: Hellsing Ultimate, vol. 4

September 23, 2008 saw the release of the newest volume of Hellsing Ultimate on DVD, and this episode does not disappoint Hellsing fans. While volume 3 introduced the Millennium organization and the character of the Major, the viewer learns in volume 4 just why Millennium exists and just how insane the Major’s reasoning for attacking actually is.

If you know about the Hellsing Ultimate series, then you should know that this has nothing to do with the original anime post-Valentine brothers. So, no crappy overpowered Incognito villain to almost kill Alucard. Instead, the servant of the Hellsing Organization must battle against the Third Reich’s last battalion, a thousand-vampire army with the goal of creating war. And, indeed, war is what they get.

Instead of giving you, the reader, a long synopsis of the episode and giving away everything that happens in the fifty-minute OVA, I’ll just briefly summarize the important plot points. The OVA starts directly after Ultimate III, with Alucard having just recently killed Alhambra and learning about Millennium’s plans for full-scale war. While this is going on in Brazil, Enrico Maxwell and the Iscariot Organization learn about Millennium through an old priest who corroborated with them during the experimentation process to create a vampire army. The organizations (Hellsing and Iscariot) meet, and eventually, the Queen of England gives Hellsing the green light to wage war against Millennium. However, Millennium has already declared war on England and launched two squads to attack England. Most of the army is launched as a primary fighting battalion set to land in London, while a small group is launched to provoke an attack. Leading the second group is this volume’s main villain, First Lieutenant Rip van Winkle, the huntress.

Using her power to control a magic bullet to continuously weave through the enemy and rip through metal, Rip and a fraction of the Millennium vampires kill the crew of a British naval vessel and claim it as their own. Of course, England will not tolerate this attack and asks the Hellsing Organization to deal with this problem. After tons of one-sided fighting (i.e., Alucard ripping the nameless vampires to shreds), it is time for the climactic battle between Rip and Alucard. Unfortunately, this battle lacks the same amount of adrenaline-pumping action the previous three volumes had in their respective climactic battles. Alucard, though, does still revel in his “bad-assery” during the fight.

While the whole OVA is an enjoyable watch, Geneon saved the best for last. The very last scene of the OVA features the Major delivering his famous “I Love War” monologue to the Millennium battalion just before landing in England. As he continued to ramble on about why he loves war so much, I became enthralled by his passion and wanted to hear everything. This is definitely one of the highlights of the OVA. And, if you think just watching the speech is good, then you are in for a treat. The Limited Edition OVA set’s second special-feature disc holds, in my mind, the best extra to ever be put on an anime DVD: a six-minute version of the Major’s speech… karaoke style.

If you are a major fan of the Hellsing series, you’ve probably already seen the OVA, and are awaiting the next episode to be released. If you are a fan of the dub, one of the best because of the use of English (and now German-English) accents, then you will most likely purchase the OVA as well. However, if you are not yet a Hellsing fan and you like copious amounts of blood, gore, vampires and guns, then this is definitely the series for you.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura
Author: CLAMP, 1996 – 2000
Volumes: 12 (published in English by Tokyopop as Cardcaptor Sakura 1–6, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow 1–6)

The Clow cards have escaped from their binding, and Sakura must recover them with the advice of the card’s stuffed animal guardian Kero-chan and the technology and fashion of her best friend Tomoyo!

Yes, its magical girl, but it’s CLAMP magical girl, which makes all the difference. The artwork is gorgeous – cute, gentle and upbeat – and the plot line still seems new and interesting despite the proliferation of the magical girl genre. Refreshingly, Sakura doesn’t need to use her magic to boost her self-esteem. Her male counterpart knows about her powers, short-circuiting a lot of the irritating poor-communication/mistaken-identity plot lines.

Although an in-depth analysis of the relationships involved in this manga might disturb the reader, Cardcaptor Sakura is so cute, it doesn’t matter. It manages to be sweet without cloying. It has danger and emotional change without slipping into angst. The magic is well thought out, more or less consistent, and mostly makes sense. Well worth reading by both genders. (Real men read CLAMP!)

Shonen-ai/Shojo-ai Note: Except for one paring, all shonen-ai/shojo-ai inclinations are mild and one-sided. And while some are “You don’t want to think about this too much,” they’re easy to ignore. One pairing is reciprocated. Maybe. Possibly. Only CLAMP could have one guy say to another, “You are my most important person,” and still have that be a debated pairing. All but the most stubborn dissenters acknowledge that the two are a couple. (Though this raises the question, if they dislike slash so much, why are they reading CLAMP?) If there is a rating less than G, then Cardcaptors gets it. Also, yes, I was being annoyingly vague on purpose.

Continuity Note: Things from Cardcaptor Sakura appear in xxxHOLiC. Whether this means they’re in the same world is up for debate.

Anime Adaptation: I’ve seen only a few episodes of the anime. The art transferred surprisingly well, though simplified, and the tone of the series is consistent with the manga. Of course, there are more cards to capture in the anime, as well as additional characters. However, I’m not sure how well the larger plot lines survived. If you’ve got the time, watch it. Nice and heartwarming.

Announcements Events

Karaoke: Friday, September 26, 8-11pm

Do you enjoy listening to music from your favorite anime?
Do you love singing Japanese songs?
Do you like chilling with some of the coolest, awesomest anime-lovers in the world?

Well then, do we have an event for you! This Friday, we will be having the first CJAS Karaoke Event of the semester! Anybody will be allowed to come, sing their favorite anime song, dance while others sing (*cough* Haruhi *cough*), and just hang out.

Here are the details:

DATE: This Friday, September 26
TIME: 8:00pm – 11:00pm
PLACE: Goldwin Smith, Kaufmann Auditorium

So, come for some of the time or all of the time, hang out with us, and sing!

We look forward to seeing all of you on Friday. Get pumped!

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Tokyo Babylon

Tokyo Babylon
Author: CLAMP, 1990-1993
Volumes: 7

Tokyo Babylon is one of CLAMP’s most classic works. The prequel to X, it sets up the back story to two of the most fascinating secondary characters.

The manga starts out episodic, with the medium Subaru dealing with various ghosts, spirits, and supernatural phenomena. With him is his cheerful sister Hokuto and their friend Seishiro. For most of the beginning of the series, it stays optimistic, despite the often serious or depressing nature of Subaru’s cases. However, a dark current surfaces as the tales go on. It’s somehow connected to a certain folktale: that beneath every cherry tree is a corpse; its blood turning the tree’s white petals pink…

Tokyo Babylon is a classic, and for a good reason. Well-written and eerie, it makes for a very interesting read. It is also short enough to keep from being either a large time or money sink. The only problems people might have is with the art style or the clothing styles. Eventually, however, both these things become integral to the feel of the manga and the characters, making Subaru’s shift in clothing at the end that much more startling.

Shonen-ai note: The main pairing, with varying degrees of seriousness, is Subaru/Seishiro. However, nothing romantic happens past a kiss—if that. Definite G-rating in terms of slash.

Continuity note:
Tokyo Babylon exists in the same world as X, Clamp School Detectives, Clamp School Defenders, and Man of a Thousand Faces. Also, at one point in xxxHOLiC, Yuko mentions Subaru in passing, which would put Tokyo Babylon in the same world as Legal Drug; Suki; xxxHOLiC; and by extension, Tsubasa. However, Yuko is also known as the Dimension Witch, and it may not be the same world at all. The characters of Tokyo Babylon also show up in Tsubasa, radically changed.

Anime adaptation: Bad, very bad. Only the most hard-core CLAMP/Tokyo Babylon fans would get any enjoyment from the OVAs. Don’t watch it. Please don’t watch it.


Manga Club is Moving!

Manga Club has moved!

We will now be meeting in Rockefeller B15 from 7 to 9 on Wednesday nights. In addition, there will be Concessions Lite to make up for the lack of any good snacking stores in reasonable distance. Come and enjoy manga with us!


Bowling Bonanza

The stage was set and nearly all the competitors were present when the “CJAS Freshman/Transfer Recruitment Bowling Event/Tournament” (CJASFTRBET for those who like acronyms) began at the Helen Newman bowling lanes. The eager participants lined up three to a lane, all ready to have a good time and brag about who was the best bowler of the night. The winners of the first two rounds were to compete in a final game to determine the victor. After slumping a bit and watching Meghan’s iPod-inspired success, our President Mike followed suit with his iPod and proceeded to dominate the first round. This is not to say the others did not compete fiercely, but the President was too focused to be deterred from ‘bowling’ the competition away.

A lax second round opened the door for one of CJAS’s new recruits, Kim, to win the round and secure her position in the finals. However, a late arrival during the second game caused one of the three lanes to progress slower. Kim and Mike, eager to duel for bragging rights and a Borders gift card (but mostly bragging rights), were undeterred by the slow lane. The two set off and began bowling a couple of frames, but something unexpected stopped them. The late arrival, CJAS’s head of Showing, “Show” Joe, finished his round and performed exceptionally well, scoring the highest game thus far. Kim and Mike agreed to allow Joe to join in and catch up to them so they could play evenly and bowl for the title. As the round progressed, Kim could not convert her spares, and it became apparent to all that it was becoming a two-horse race. Finally it was down to the last frame, with Mike holding a nine-pin lead over Joe. This last frame would decide it.

Mike started off the frame, bowling seven pins down and looking to pick up another pin or two to secure his win. However, he failed to hit any pins, leaving the door open for Joe to swoop in and pluck the win from Mike’s hands. Joe, too, began the frame by hitting seven pins. He was still down by nine, but this did not deter him. With his next roll, Joe converted the spare and could bowl one last ball to determine the championship and bragging rights. As it stood, Mike’s score was 138, and Joe had at least a 132. He would need to hit seven pins to claim the title. Taking a breath to calm himself down, Joe let the ball fly with the might of a titan, his single focus on hitting enough pins to win. As the final ball teetered over, the onlookers began counting just how many he had hit. 1…2…3…4…5…6…………………7! And so, by one pin, Joe beat Mike to claim the title and prize. Congratulations go out to everyone who could make it, and we hope to see you next time!


ClubFest Fun

Barton Hall was the place to be two Sundays ago for Cornell’s annual ClubFest. CJAS was in attendance (as usual), armed with cosplayers (two this year!), lots of candy, an E-board slide show, and an ever-expanding list of interested freshmen and transfers. Despite all the competition surrounding us, we managed to capture the attention of passers by with “Caramelldansen” and anime openings blaring over the background noise of far-off performances. There seemed to be much interest in what CJAS does, and it showed in the length of the e-mail contact list by the end of the day. All in all it was a great afternoon and we hope to see many new faces in the weeks to come!

Announcements Events

Manga Club: Tuesdays 8-10 in RPCC 220

Manga Club has a new meeting place this semester. Until we get a better place (and time), Manga Club will be meeting Tuesdays, 8 – 10 p.m. in RPCC, room 220.

Hope to see you there!