Anime Lounge #16: Kaichou wa Maid Sama Ep. 13–26

Kai­cho wa Maid Sama wraps up love saga

Series: Kai­chou wa Maid Sama

Episodes: 13 to 26

Premise: Mis­aki Ayuzawa is the stu­dent coun­cil pres­i­dent at a for­merly all-boys high school. She also works at a maid cafe on the side to earn money to sup­port her fam­ily. Mis­aki has prob­lems relat­ing to the male mem­bers of her class so she comes off a lit­tle more than brusque and over­bear­ing. One of her class­mates, Usui Takumi, hap­pens upon her by chance as she’s being intim­i­dated by a group of men. It just so hap­pens that he comes to her res­cue as she’s work­ing so he learns her secret. Thus, begins the saga of Mis­aki and Usui, she try­ing to keep her secret and he try­ing to get her to open up to him. It’s obvi­ous from the begin­ning that Usui is in love with Mis­aki but she’s about the only per­son in the cast that doesn’t real­ize it.

Is it worth watch­ing?: Yes. The humor makes up for the slow pace of the story, but the pay­off at the end of the series is worth wait­ing for over 26 episodes.

Break­out char­ac­ter: Mis­aki Ayuzawa. She’s the lead in this roman­tic com­edy so she should be stand­ing out at some point. Ayuzawa comes into her own by the end of the series, and you see her devel­op­ment as the main char­ac­ter come along nicely.

Fun­ni­est episode: Episode 26, “Too Cruel Ayuzawa & Usui the Idiot!” Not so much funny as it is a great way to wrap up the story in the anime adap­ta­tion, Episode 26 is one of the best pay­off scenes in a recent anime. The way the story comes together to the inevitable finale — which you knew was com­ing after the first episode — is well done and satisfying.

Where it’s going?: This is the finale for the series but the story con­tin­ues on in the manga with a nice epilogue.

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Otaku Corner: Tokyo Tribes Vol. 2

Tokyo pre­pares for all-out gang war­fare in Tribes Vol­ume 2

In a pre­vi­ous Otaku Cor­ner col­umn, I reviewed the first vol­ume of the manga series “Tokyo Tribes.” Tokyo Tribes is the first manga series I’ve read that per­fectly com­bines Japan­ese comic art with the raw power of urban Amer­i­can pop cul­ture, mainly hip-hop and R&B music. When I last reviewed Tokyo Tribes, it mor­phed from a stand­alone work to a tril­ogy, giv­ing way to var­i­ous spin­offs, a live-action movie, and a in-development TV series super­vised by cre­ator Santa Inoue.

A short recap: The story is set after a time where riots occurred in Tokyo where gangs known as “tribes” con­trol cer­tain areas via a shaky truce. Kai of the “Saru” and Mera of the “Wu-Ronz” are sworn ene­mies, whose his­tory sets the stage for all-out war involv­ing all tribes for con­trol of Tokyo’s streets.

On the way to drop off Saru’s leader Tera to work, Mera and the Wu-Ronz ambushed Kai, Hasheem and Steno, result­ing in Tera being seri­ously injured. Kai goes after Mera through Shibuya’s rooftops lead­ing to a bat vs. katana bat­tle between the for­mer friends. Dur­ing the bat­tle, both men nearly fall from a build­ing. Iwao, leader of the Hands, show up with military-grade weaponry, shoot­ing Mera down. Skunk and the other Wu-Ronz rush to Mera’s aid, but Iwao and a few Hands mem­bers inter­vene, demand­ing pay­back for Mera cut­ting off a Hands member’s arm.

While onlook­ers and police are dis­tracted, Mera mirac­u­lously sur­vives his fall, and attempts to kill Hasheem as Hasheem guides Kai to a safer exit from the build­ing. Kai and Tera rush to Hasheem to pro­tect him from Mera but Tera is beheaded by Mera and more chaos ensues. Hasheem, feel­ing respon­si­ble for Tera’s death, attempts sui­cide while a few of Saru’s mem­bers ram­page through Shibuya look­ing for pay­back against Wu-Ronz mem­bers. They find an oppor­tu­nity through Unkoi, son of the Wu-Ronz bene­fac­tor Big Bubba, at a local karaoke bar. While the Saru mem­bers made short work of other Wu-Ronz mem­bers, Unkoi gravely injures two mem­bers, while his per­sonal body­guard Galileo chases the third to the final page of the book. Mean­while, Kai is deal­ing with trou­bles of his own as his father appears deter­mined to remove him from the Saru for good.

Dur­ing this vol­ume, I still felt the awe­some vibe from the first one, but more meat was in the sto­ry­line. Inoue-san gave read­ers a bet­ter expla­na­tion why both char­ac­ters have this venge­ful hate toward each other beyond Mera blam­ing Kai for his girlfriend’s death. Dur­ing a brief back­story, Bubba’s cor­rup­tion took Mera’s moral com­pass and the lives of his par­ents, which made me feel a lit­tle sorry for him since he not only hates Kai but also wants to destroy Bubba’s life as well. I also felt Kai’s pain after Tera’s death since Tera was also a men­tor to all the Saru members.

Inoue-san also showed his spe­cial skill of adding cer­tain pop-culture ref­er­ences such as Tower Records and dis­play­ing ren­di­tions of hip-hop and R&B artists’ album cov­ers. The art­work was also top notch, espe­cially when show­ing Unkoi’s ruth­less side as he fought the Saru mem­bers. It was as if I was read­ing the bat­tle scene from Kill Bill Vol­ume 1. Tokyo Pop’s ded­i­ca­tion to Tokyo Tribes remains strong, thanks to Alexis Kirsch and David Walker han­dling trans­la­tion and adap­ta­tion, along with Stu­art Levy col­lab­o­rat­ing with Inoue-san as exec­u­tive pro­duc­ers, ensur­ing that this hip-hop vision con­tin­ues with­out compromise.

With the Saru in tur­moil with­out a leader, and the Hands and Wu-Ronz prepar­ing for all-out war in Tokyo’s streets, what will hap­pen? Can Kai and Mera tri­umph over their per­sonal issues and make peace? We’ll revisit the scene of gang war­fare in Vol­ume 3.

Bran­don Beatty is Editor-At-Large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at

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Strip Talk #25: Black Panther film is needed, necessary now

Needed. Nec­es­sary. Now. Black Panther’s release was all of this and more in a time when melanated super heroes on the big screen are far and few in between.

Why was the ensem­ble tale so nec­es­sary? While lit­tle chil­dren can throw a stone in any direc­tion and hit any num­ber of white super­heroes, the num­ber of black super­heroes is small. In main­stream comic book movies, at most there are: War Machine, Storm, Cyborg and Fal­con. That’s it. That is, until T’Challa and his nation of advanced progress hit the scene.

The pres­ence of the almost entirely black cast was sorely needed. The pres­ence of a capa­ble black direc­tor was needed. See­ing pos­i­tive images of black folks was needed. Why? Because it’s about time that black folks were shown as human, beau­ti­ful, smart and good peo­ple. It’s long over­due, but the thrill of see­ing a black man run his nation and do the right thing when given a choice never gets old.

And why now? Because for the pos­i­tive side of black super­heroes to do well in this cli­mate, it was noth­ing short of genius and a mir­a­cle. Now is the time for the con­ver­sa­tions sur­round­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion and diver­sity, and Black Pan­ther is the per­fect vehi­cle. Now is the time for black folks to rise above neg­a­tive stereo­types and look at how we are per­ceived, point to Black Pan­ther — a fic­tional char­ac­ter aside — and say, “We are more than capa­ble of bring­ing in box office dol­lars and, most impor­tantly, we are human and here to stay. We have a seat at the table.”

Wakanda for­ever.

Lyn­d­sey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached by email at

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Property review: 300: Rise of an Empire

300: Rise of an Empire
Warner Bros., 2014

300: Rise of an Empire late but bold enough to make impact

The first movie in the pos­si­ble pan­theon of tales about the valiant Spar­tans who died at the Bat­tle of Ther­mopy­lae was a rol­lick­ing good time. There were epic one-liners, fight­ing, sex and death: Every­thing you could ask for in a movie about ancient Greece and Per­sia. The sec­ond film had a name to live up to and a rep­u­ta­tion to uphold. While it man­ages to recre­ate some of the fun of 300, Rise of an Empire comes much too late to cap­i­tal­ize and con­tinue to curry the favor that 300 cultivated.

Rise of an Empire starts with the premise that King Leonidas and his brave brigade of war­riors from 300 are dead. Tak­ing place dur­ing, before and after Leonidas’ sac­ri­fi­cial trip to the Hot Gates, Rise of an Empire shows the begin­ning of Xerxes I’s reign, his cre­ation of Per­sian city states, his rise to power and seem­ing immor­tal­ity, and his ruth­less gen­eral Artemisia’s back­ground and even­tual lust for revenge and power. With simul­ta­ne­ous story threads, the film moves along at a quick­ened pace despite being an hour and 42 min­utes long. It needs that amount of time to flash­back for mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters and push the present events forward.

While the look at events in Rise of an Empire are inter­est­ing, quite frankly it was too long between movies for there to be much inter­est in the pro­ceed­ings. Rise comes seven years after the orig­i­nal, which means there’s plenty of time to for­get the orig­i­nal plot, char­ac­ter moti­va­tions and rea­son for most of any­thing that occurs. There are plot recaps at the begin­ning, thank­fully, but it’s hard to remem­ber a plot from seven years pre­vi­ously and remain engaged.

Despite the pas­sage of time, the film looks good. The chroma key tech­nique used in the orig­i­nal is used again and then given a fuzzy sheen. While slightly jar­ring, the sheen doesn’t detract too much from the orig­i­nal look that matched the comics. The sound­track remains the same as well, so not much has changed aside from the focus and some of the stars. Lena Headey returns as Queen Gorgo as does Rodrigo San­toro as Xerxes. Eva Green — a for­mer Bond Girl — and Sul­li­van Sta­ple­ton join in new roles to round out the cast. The new addi­tions are great and seam­lessly fit the uni­verse. Green and Sta­ple­ton siz­zle with chem­istry and Green, in par­tic­u­lar, is a stand­out. San­toro still com­mands as Xerxes when­ever he is onscreen but the God King seems to take a back­seat, which is hard to under­stand. As he remains the main vil­lain, he should remain front and cen­ter.
Despite the long wait and sto­ry­line lag­ging from time to time, 300: Rise of an Empire is still a fun his­tory les­son for the comic book lover and casual movie­goer alike.

Story: 7
Like the comics: 10
Cast­ing: 9

Total: 36/40 or 9

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Character Highlight #23: Pyslocke

Name: Eliz­a­beth Braddock

Alias: Betsy, Betts, Kwan­non, Lady Man­darin, Cap­tain Britain, Lady Briton, Death

Affil­i­a­tion: X-Men, Cap­tain Britain Corps, X-Force, S.T.R.I.K.E., Extinc­tion Team, the Man­darin, Sis­ter­hood of Mutants, Exiles, Hand, Hell­fire Club, Horse­men of the Apoc­a­lypse, X.S.E.

Spe­cial abil­i­ties: Psy­locke is an Omega-level mutant who has the abil­ity to gen­er­ate psionic weapons with her mind. She is a near-Omega-level telepath who can use telekine­sis, telepa­thy pre­cog­ni­tion and tele­por­ta­tion. She is capa­ble of gen­er­at­ing shields and flight.

Back­ground: Psy­locke started life as the daugh­ter of Oth­er­world res­i­dent Dr. James Brad­dock, who fathered three chil­dren on Earth. She grew up with latent mutant pow­ers as a telepath, which were unlocked after a bat­tle at Brad­dock Manor with Dr. Synne. After this, Psy­locke became a model and encoun­tered S.T.R.I.K.E, the British ver­sion of S.H.I.E.L.D. Through them, she learned to har­ness her pow­ers and strengthen her­self. She later became a ver­sion of her brother’s super­pow­ered iden­tity, Cap­tain Britain. While using this iden­tity, the vil­lain known as Slay­mas­ter beat and blinded her. She regained her eye­sight when vil­lains Mojo and Spi­ral abducted her and gave her cyber­netic eyes. With these eyes, she was used to spy on the X-Men for Mojo. After the defeat of Mojo, the Mor­locks were mas­sa­cred by the Maraud­ers and she helped those who sur­vived. After the bat­tle to avenge the Mor­locks, Psy­locke was invited to join the X-Men in a full-time capac­ity and she accepted. In her later adven­tures with the X-Men, she was forcibly switched from her body to assas­sin Kwannon’s body by Kwannon’s lover, crime lord Mats’uo Tsurayaba. Kwan­non, in Psylocke’s orig­i­nal body call­ing her­self Revanche, then devel­oped the Legacy Virus and died. Psy­locke has remained in Kwannon’s body. She has bat­tled the Crim­son Dawn and gained new pow­ers, such as the abil­ity to fuse with the shad­ows and travel with them. Through con­tact with Jean Grey, her pow­ers were mag­ni­fied on a cos­mic level to reach Omega status.

Rela­tion­ships: Brian Brad­dock (Cap­tain Britain), brother; James Brad­dock Jr., brother; War­ren Wor­thing­ton III (Angel/Archangel), lover; Nathan Christo­pher Sum­mers (Cable), lover; Tom Lennox, lover; Agent Michael (alias), lover; Neal Shaara (Thun­der­bird), lover; Vic­tor Creed (Sabre­tooth), lover; Fan­tomex, lover; Clus­ter, lover.

First Ver­sus appear­ance: Mar­vel vs. Cap­com (char­ac­ter assist)

Appear­ances in other media: X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants (video game), X-Men: Mutant Apoc­a­lypse (video game), X-Men 2: Clone Wars (video game), X-Men: Chil­dren of the Atom (video game), Mar­vel Super Heroes (video game), Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 2: New Age of Heroes (video game), X-Men: Mutant Acad­emy 2 (video game), X-Men: Next Dimen­sion (video game), X-Men Leg­ends (video game), Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance (video game), Mar­vel: Ulti­mate Alliance 2 (video game), Mar­vel Super Hero Squad Online (video game), Mar­vel: Avengers Alliance (video game), Lego Mar­vel Super Heroes (video game), Mar­vel Heroes (video game), Mar­vel: War of Heroes (video game), Mar­vel Puz­zle Quest: Dark Reign (video game), X-Men: Bat­tle of the Atom (video game), X-Men: The Rav­ages of Apoc­a­lypse (video game), X-Men: The Last Stand (film), X-Men: Apoc­a­lypse (film), X-Men: The Ani­mated Series (tele­vi­sion), Wolver­ine and the X-Men (television)

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Top 5 on The Strip: Batman versions

1. Bat­man (Earth Two ver­sion): This ver­sion of Bruce Wayne set­tles down with Selina Kyle and has a daugh­ter, Helena Wayne, who becomes Huntress. Even­tu­ally, Bruce becomes police com­mis­sioner. After a one last adven­ture as Bat­man, he is killed in bat­tle try­ing to stop the destruc­tion of the city. As he was still using his secret iden­tity, Doc­tor Fate of Earth Two changes real­ity to keep his iden­tity secret and lets every­one believe that Bruce died of can­cer at Wayne Manor.

2. Bat­man film — Michael Keaton: Michael Keaton, the first of the film cowl wear­ers, was derided when he was announced in the mid-1980s. No one could believe that “Mr. Mom” would do the trick. And then 1989’s Bat­man hit the sil­ver screen and the noise stopped. Not only was Keaton excel­lent, but also he brought a much-needed sever­ity to the char­ac­ter and was wholly believ­able inside and out­side of the tights.

3. Flash­point Bat­man: In the Flash­point ver­sion of Bat­man, Thomas and Martha Wayne — the mur­dered par­ents of Bruce Wayne in all Bat­man ori­gin sto­ries — don’t die. Instead, Bruce is killed in Crime Alley in their place. In their grief and attempts to cope with Bruce’s death, Thomas becomes Bat­man and Martha becomes the Joker. Even­tu­ally, both learn that in the true time­line, they die in the place of Bruce and he becomes Bat­man to avenge their deaths.

4. Bat­man film — Chris­t­ian Bale ver­sion: Chris­t­ian Bale took a fran­chise that was mired in the depths of medi­oc­rity and down­right unin­ten­tional hilar­ity and gave it life again. Bale made it cool to like Bat­man and the Caped Crusader’s cred­i­bil­ity was restored. It only took two movies, arguably, to achieve this feat: Bat­man Begins in 2005 and The Dark Knight in 2008, all lead by Bale. The Dark Knight Rises was just an added bonus to seal the deal.

5. Bat­man kills the Joker/Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 3 Bat­man: In a ver­sion of the Injus­tice sto­ry­line, Bat­man actu­ally kills the Joker. After the Joker plants a bomb killing Lois Lane, Bat­man cap­tures him and attempts to turn him in. As they’re rid­ing to Arkham Asy­lum, the Joker inti­mates that he will likely try again to tor­ment Super­man and hints at try­ing to kill Superman’s baby. Bat­man snaps and well, breaks the Joker’s neck.

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Anime Lounge #15: Yuri on Ice!!

Get ready to skate

Episodes: 1 to 12 (all)

Premise: Pro­fes­sional fig­ure skater Yuri Kat­suki is in a career slump, suf­fer­ing his worst defeat dur­ing the Grand Prix. Yuri’s con­fi­dence has hit rock bot­tom and he’s think­ing of giv­ing up and quit­ting skat­ing for good. But he’s vis­ited by his idol, fel­low skater Vic­tor Niki­forov, after a video of Yuri per­form­ing Victor’s sig­na­ture rou­tine goes viral. With Victor’s tute­lage, Yuri works to get back into per­form­ing with a renewed vigor. Yuri’s efforts to become some­thing bet­ter and his work toward devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships and con­fi­dence in his work and him­self are documented.

Is it worth watch­ing?: Yes. The story is hilar­i­ously played out, from Yuri’s strug­gles to stay in skat­ing shape to his awk­ward attempts at befriend­ing fel­low skaters. The seri­ous side of the story is also worth not­ing as it show­cases what pres­sure to suc­ceed can do to even the most con­fi­dent of us all.

Break­out char­ac­ter: Yuri Pliset­sky. The other Yuri, known as Yurio, is good and he knows it. He man­ages to steal every scene he’s in, whether he’s impress­ing with his bril­liant skat­ing prowess or cre­at­ing a new depth of rude­ness to every­one around him.

Fun­ni­est episode: Episode 10, “Gotta Super­charge it! Pre-Grand Prix Final Spe­cial!” The end of the episode reveals the moti­va­tion for Vic­tor to come to Japan to train and teach Yuri. The scene is shown through flash­backs and gets increas­ingly funny as it goes for­ward. Yuri’s con­vinc­ing of Vic­tor to train him is right in line with their rela­tion­ship: Sur­pris­ing yet obvious.

Where it’s going?: With the end of the first sea­son and Yuri’s move to St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia, to con­tinue train­ing, the end­ing was left open for a future sequel sea­son and there is a movie in pro­duc­tion. That sea­son has been announced, so it remains to be seen just where Yuri’s career will take him and what he will have finally accom­plished in his renewed state.

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Top 5 on The Strip: Animated superhero cartoons

Batman animated series

1. Bat­man: The Ani­mated Series

The stan­dard bearer for mod­ern super­hero car­toons, Bat­man: The Ani­mated Series was gritty, dark and fresh off the suc­cess of Bat­man Returns. It’s well-drawn with a neat art deco style and the voice act­ing set the stan­dard for future series. If you weren’t watch­ing this every day after school, you missed out. Imme­di­ately go back and watch this from begin­ning to end.

Teen Titans

2. Teen Titans

Teen Titans took a dif­fer­ent tack when talk­ing about Robin’s squad of heroes. It’s a great look at the younger super­heroes of the DC uni­verse in a group that still stands today. Fea­tur­ing Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy, the show focuses on the group being young super­heroes while also being teenagers with typ­i­cal teenager prob­lems. The voice work is fan­tas­tic and the ani­ma­tion is top-notch as well.

tmnt 1987 series

3. TMNT (1987 series)

We’re well-known TMNT fans here at GI and that love stems from the old black-and-white comics as well as the orig­i­nal ani­mated series. That series, with its ’80s atti­tude and charm, man­aged to get us into the Tur­tles to start and paved the way for the jug­ger­naut that was and still is the Tur­tles fran­chise. Out­stand­ing voice­work — fea­tur­ing the likes of Jim Cum­mings and the late James Avery — make it one of the best ‘80s ani­mated series and a good intro­duc­tion to the TMNT uni­verse at large.

X-men fox animated

4. X-Men: The Ani­mated Series

Aside from the clas­sic theme, X-Men: The Ani­mated Series fea­tured a stel­lar voice cast and sto­ries that mostly stayed faith­ful to the comics. At the time of its 1992 incep­tion, this was unheard of in comic prop­er­ties trans­lated to TV. X-Men estab­lished sev­eral char­ac­ters as favorites: Storm, Wolver­ine, Pro­fes­sor X, Jean Grey, Cable, Bishop, Gam­bit and Jubilee. It was so great that incar­na­tions of the char­ac­ters fea­tured in the show have been used in mul­ti­ple video game prop­er­ties since.


5.  Spider-Man (Fox)

Another great Fox ani­mated series, Spider-Man was a fan­tas­tic show­case of the web-crawler’s style and sto­ry­lines. It fea­tured quite a few of Peter Parker’s rogues gallery and touched on a lot of his story arcs with accu­racy and matu­rity not usu­ally seen in comic book shows. As with X-Men: The Ani­mated Series, Spider-Man had great voice act­ing that car­ried over into video games pro­duced there­after, such as the Mar­vel Ver­sus series.

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Property review: Captain America: Civil War

Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War
Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2016

A civil war worth fighting

No, this isn’t the “Late Unpleas­ant­ness,” but Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War is a bit­ter bat­tle waged between broth­ers in arms. And it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at that bat­tle that has moral com­pli­ca­tions and impli­ca­tions for the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse at large.

Civil War starts out shortly after the end of the excel­lent Win­ter Sol­dier (editor’s note: Read our review of Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier in 4Q2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The tit­u­lar assas­sin is shown in a flash­back to a piv­otal event in an Avenger’s his­tory and is, in the present, on the loose after res­cu­ing Cap­tain Amer­ica from the murky depths of the Potomac River. Also, the Avengers have been bol­stered by the addi­tions of new recruits with a few losses in the lineup because of events in Age of Ultron. They’re on a mis­sion to stop Cross­bones (also new after the Win­ter Sol­dier) when every­thing planned goes hor­ri­bly awry. The after­math is swift: The Avengers are called on the car­pet and told to shape up, join the government’s ver­sion of over­sight or be hunted and thrown in jail with no fore­see­able release. Sides are cho­sen and the lines are drawn as to who is going to remain with no over­sight and who will work with the government’s reg­is­tra­tion act.

We have to acknowl­edge the pow­er­ful sec­ondary tale that springs up among the Win­ter Sol­dier, Cap­tain Amer­ica and Iron Man. The civil war really comes down to the lay­ered con­flict between Cap and Iron Man. This is what’s really dri­ving the over­all arch­ing fight between teams, but on a per­sonal level, these two friends are hurt­ing on dif­fer­ent lev­els because of each other. Tony can’t under­stand why Cap doesn’t get the need for over­sight and he feels jeal­ous because of the rela­tion­ship between Cap and the Win­ter Sol­dier. Not to men­tion, a plot twist late in the game brings the lat­ter rela­tion­ship to the fore­front and is essen­tially the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Tony. Cap can’t under­stand why Tony doesn’t want to oper­ate as is, given that Tony is a past weapons man­u­fac­turer and oper­ates well with­out some­one stand­ing over his shoul­der and the fol­lies that were S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra. Civil War’s excel­lent and tight writ­ing basi­cally boils down a con­flict between best friends whose visions have grown apart.

Despite Civil War being one of the longer films in the MCU, it never feels like it. The pac­ing is excel­lent from the begin­ning to end, and you’re drawn into the action quickly and effi­ciently, which there’s plenty of. The flow of story to action is great, the humor is deftly weaved in with a lot of inside jokes and nods to past events and easter eggs, and it’s the per­fect mix to keep you inter­ested in what’s going to hap­pen next. The fight scenes alone are worth watch­ing just to see the chore­og­ra­phy and styl­ish nuance found in recre­at­ing the ensemble’s var­i­ous super pow­ers and abil­i­ties. Every fight scene — from the brawl at gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters, to the chase at the Win­ter Soldier’s apart­ment and the giant brawl at the air­port — is worth watch­ing repeatedly.

Char­ac­ter devel­op­ment is also han­dled extremely well. New super­heroes are intro­duced and older char­ac­ters are fur­ther devel­oped, which makes the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion easy and nat­ural and their inter­ac­tion believ­able. You grow to care about the new char­ac­ters, which is rel­a­tively hard to do with a large ensem­ble such as Civil War. You also get a sense that you would imme­di­ately know what each Avenger would decide to do because you already know these char­ac­ters, and the ones you don’t know, you learn who they are and why they make their per­sonal choices.

There are sev­eral addi­tions to the cast that make Civil War stand out. The first is Black Pan­ther, who becomes an Avenger at a later point in the comics. Here, the character’s intro­duc­tion was han­dled so well that we’re eagerly await­ing the announced spin­off film for him. The sec­ond is Spider-Man. Yes, the web crawler’s recent film out­ings have been done to death, but it’s his intro­duc­tion here that is nicely done. It serves two pur­poses: to finally bring him home to the Mar­vel brand once again and set him up cor­rectly within the MCU.

The story, by itself, is an inter­est­ing tale of free­dom and choices. We under­stood why both sides chose their posi­tions in the Civil War, and we could eas­ily empathize with both sides. While the comic ver­sion of this story is sim­i­lar in forc­ing a stance on issues related to free­dom and respon­si­bil­ity, the change made to the inci­dent that causes the con­flict between super­heroes in the film is a wel­come one and more relatable.

Where the MCU goes from here is debat­able because of the many angles that can be taken in Infin­ity War, but it’s a going to be a great ride thanks to the fan­tas­tic build up in pre­vi­ous films such as Civil War.

Like the comics?: 6
Cast­ing: 10
Sto­ry­line: 10

Score: 26/30 or 8.6

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 9

Death Note wrap­ping up in its usual suspense-filled way

Brandon-2012-cutoutSchol­arly. Resource­ful. If I had to describe Light Yagami, I would use these words to char­ac­ter­ize him as well as to say that I could see him becom­ing a future min­is­ter of jus­tice for Japan. How­ever, since Mr. Yagami (aka Kira) has pos­ses­sion of the Death Note, I could only think of two words to describe him: tyrant and mur­derer. In the ninth vol­ume of “Death Note,” Light’s actions fit my lat­ter descrip­tions of him as his actions con­tinue to have dev­as­tat­ing reac­tions on the United States and Japan.
At the end of Vol­ume 8, Light’s plan to use U.S. Spe­cial Forces to attack Mello’s hide­out failed greatly because of the involve­ment of the shinigami Sidoh, the use of the ran­som Death Note and use of the Shinigami Eyes by one of Mello’s hench­men. As a result, the Spe­cial Forces mem­bers along with cur­rent U.S. pres­i­dent David Hoope were killed. Reel­ing from Mello’s bril­liant attack, Light devises an attack plan using Misa’s Death Note and hav­ing Soichiro make a deal with Ryuk for the Shinigami Eyes. Light’s plan worked suc­cess­fully in elim­i­nat­ing Mello’s hench­men in addi­tion to recov­er­ing the Death Note and find­ing out Mello’s true iden­tity, but Soichiro was killed by one of Mello’s men, who faked his own death.
Dur­ing these events, the SPK dis­cov­ers that they are being dis­banded amid a dec­la­ra­tionDeath Note Vol. 9 cover of sur­ren­der to Kira by act­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent George Sairas. This forces Light to go through a com­bined bar­rage of attacks by  Near and Mello in order to dis­rupt and expose Kira within the Japan­ese task force. Dur­ing this three-way bat­tle, Light’s, Mello’s and Near’s tac­tics result in  deci­sive wins for each man. In the final chap­ter, Light ulti­mately comes out on top by using Demegawa and Sakura TV to reach Kira sup­port­ers and rally them to siege the SPK head­quar­ters while taunt­ing Near to escape while he is able.
Like all of the other Death Note vol­umes I’ve read, Vol­ume 9 still keeps the intrigu­ing mix of super­nat­ural hor­ror and mys­tery. How­ever, this vol­ume had me think­ing that Ohba-san and Obata-san wrote and drew this vol­ume while watch­ing a marathon of the show “24.” While read­ing, I noticed that while Light has his keen abil­ity to take on many chal­lenges, he also knows that he has Near and Mello stand­ing in his way. I also like how Ohba-san and Obata-san set up Mello and Near as coop­er­a­tive rivals. Mello tells Near that he is not a tool to cap­ture Kira and threat­ens to shoot him, but they exchange clues regard­ing the Death Note when Near gives Mello the only pic­ture avail­able of him. As the Death Note saga begins to close, Light is so close to his dream, yet so far with Near and Mello on his heels.
Credit again goes to Viz Media as they con­tinue to do an excel­lent job of trans­la­tion and adap­ta­tion, this time assign­ing the tasks to Tesuichiro Miyaki. Miyaki con­tin­ues the challenging-yet-successful task of pre­sent­ing Death Note to the Eng­lish audi­ence.
I’m get­ting close to the end of review­ing the Death Note manga series. With only three vol­umes left, I’m kind of torn between root­ing for Light’s noble cause to erad­i­cate evil and L’s heirs con­tin­u­ing his legacy of genius. How­ever, after all that Light has done to crim­i­nals and non-criminals alike, I can only take one side: Team Ryuzaki.

Bran­don Beatty is edi­tor at large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at

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