Marvel Character Highlight #13: Silver Samurai

Name: Kenuichio Haradasilversamurai

Affiliation: HYDRA, Big Hero Six, Viper, Mandrill, Yashida Clan

Special abilities: Silver Samurai has the ability to generate a tachyon field through himself, though he can project the energy through anything he chooses. Frequently, he chooses a katana, which can cut through virtually any substance known to man (excluding adamantium). Silver Samurai is also a master of Kenjutsu — the art of wielding a katana — and Bushido.

Background: Kenuichio Harada began life as the illegitimate son of Yashida clan boss Shingen Harada. He began his criminal career with the Mandrill then moved on to working with HYDRA’s Viper as her bodyguard. Harada then looked to take over the Yashida clan after the death of his father but came into conflict with his half-sister, Mariko Yashida, and Wolverine. When Mariko was killed, he did claim leadership of the clan but lost it to a Mongolian warlord. After losing his leadership position, he returned to criminal activity and was brainwashed by the mutant Blindspot to forget his dalliance into super hero activities. Harada then returned to HYDRA and fought Elektra. He was thought to be killed but survived and turned up again trying to take over the Yakuza. He worked briefly as the head of security for the prime minister of Japan and then fought Wolverine after the events of M-Day. The two fought until Wolverine cut off his hand at the wrist. Silver Samurai was later killed by ninjas in an attack on his home. His son, Shingen Harada, later took up the mantle.

Relationships: Shingen Harada (father), Mariko Yashida (half-sister), Wolverine (James Howlett, former brother-in-law), second Silver Samurai (Shingen “Shin” Harada, son)

First Versus game appearance: X-Men: Children of the Atom

Appearances in other media: X-Men (animated, 1996), Wolverine and the X-Men (animated, 2009), X-Men: The Official Game (multiplatform, 2006), Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (2000, multiplatform)

Property review: Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai screengrabAfro Samurai

Funimation Entertainment, 2007

Afro Samurai is a concerto of high-quality hack and slash

There were never that many black samurai in history. Save for their fictional counterparts, let’s just say diversity wasn’t the thing in ancient Japan. But for all of that lack of attention to historical detail, Afro Samurai manages to evoke sympathy and more than enough interest with its protagonist and story.

One of the things we’ve come to love about Afro Samurai in the years since its first release and airing are the characters.

True, Afro doesn’t say too much but Ninja Ninja more than makes up for that. Afro is your Afro Samurai coverclassically stoic protagonist who doesn’t say much and chooses to let his actions speak louder than his words ever could. Ninja Ninja is — spoiler alert! — his consciousness, saying the things he wishes he could say out loud and looking like a smaller, more cool version of himself. The dynamic between the two characters, both voiced by the incomparable Samuel L. Jackson, is the meat of the plot and carries the story, though Afro’s quest to own the No. 1 headband and be the No. 1 fighter in the world is important as well.

Make no mistake, though, the duo roaming around chopping people to death in that quest is the draw of the story.

And while the characters are interesting, it’s their stories and history that make the show. How exactly Afro comes into possession of the No. 2 headband and his quest to run from his past of violence and death is riveting. Within five episodes the Empty Seven Clan is introduced and the fights for the No. 2 headband are detailed. The art style of the fights is gorgeous and the soundtrack, composed by the RZA, is worth replaying. Though everything isn’t wrapped up nicely and neatly, the five episodes tell the story at a nice pace and put the action at the forefront where it should be.

We even appreciate the naturally developed ending, which leads to Afro Samurai Resurrection, though it isn’t quite as good as the original. But with a stellar voice cast, beautiful animation and a pretty good plot and soundtrack, Afro Samurai is worth starting from the beginning.

Plot: 10

Animation quality: 10

Casting: 10

Score: 30 out of 30 or 10

HOW WE GRADE

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 and 30 overall.

Otaku Corner: Tenjho Tenge Vol. 1

Don’t miss a great fighter anime in Tenjho Tenge

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back, readers, to another edition of Otaku Corner. I know that most of you wanted to get back to the battle between Ryuzaki and Light in “Death Note,” but in this edition, I think we all need to take a mental nap from that EPIC battle. For now, let’s take a break from an EPIC game of cat and mouse and enjoy a nice high school anime filled with romance, comedy, and yes, my fellow fighting otaku, plenty of beat downs. Grab some popcorn, get your other favorite anime-viewing snacks and refreshments together and kick back for the first volume of Tenjho Tenge (Heaven and Earth).

Based on the worldwide smash manga series originally appearing in Shuiesha’s V Jump”comics by Oh! Great, and produced by Geneon Entertainment, Tenjho Tenge focuses on 15-year olds Souichiro Nagi and “Bob” Makihara (aka the Knuckle Bombs) who are newly enrolled students at Todou Academy with plans of conquest as they did with their previous schools. However they soon discover that Todou is not some ordinary Japanese high school, but is really a school that was founded to teach and preserve various martial arts. After DESTROYING the senior class, Souichiro and Bob are single-handedly defeated by Maya Natsume, captain of the Juken club and her second-in-command Masataka Takayanagi. Souichiro is then hunted down by Maya’s sister, Aya, Tenjho Tenge dvd coverwho instantly falls in love with Souichiro because of a Natsume woman’s tradition. This sets off events in which the Juken Club is involved in a decades-old feud.

The first four episodes have a strong background story, especially with Souichiro after he was defeated by Masataka Takayanagi that reminds him that losing is never an option. In between the romance and chase of Souichiro by Aya, we learn more about the sisters Natsume who are strong willed but have their own unique abilities. Here’s a heads up: Tenjho Tenge nearly goes beyond the standards of fan service with the panty shots, views of the Natsume sisters’ breasts and the usual tough guy talk and battles that will make its viewers think it’s a cross of Fist of the North Star and Battle Royale but in an acceptable viewing format.

Besides the four episodes, the DVD includes, in addition to upcoming Geneon titles, clean openings and closings with the two main songs. I especially enjoyed having Lyndsey listen to TT’s opening song EVERY episode (yes, my evil plan did work. Editor’s note: No, it didn’t. He thinks it did. That opening — Bomb-a-Head — is one of the worst songs I have ever heard). I want to commend Geneon Entertainment’s U.S. branch for producing and dubbing alongside BangZoom! Entertainment and for choosing the great cast that included Johnny Yong Bosch, Stephanie Sheh (Bleach) and Wendee Lee (Cowboy Bebop) playing their respective roles. In short, Tenjho Tenge Volume 1 gets a 4.

Tenjho Tenge is, without doubt, a mix of all anime high school dramas , but with more kick. I’m very excited that this series will re-release its awesomeness soon thanks to the good folks of Discotek Media since Geneon USA is no longer in business. But for good laughs, martial arts action, high school romance (minus the overused clichés) and fan service, TT is good for you. Now to give the HBJ group their new official theme song, Bomb-a-Head.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large for Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Top 5 on The Strip: Asian superheroes

Psylocke

Psylocke

Betsy Braddock wasn’t born Japanese. No, that didn’t happen until she switched bodies with Kwannon, a Japanese assassin. Braddock’s original body was compromised by the Legacy Virus, and Kwannon died. The six-armed mutant Spiral the cause of the mind switch to start with, and whenever Spiral is involved, things never end the way they’re supposed to.

Doctor Light-Kimiyo Hoshi

Doctor Light

Kimiyo Hoshi was an astronomer who happened to be observing a subtle battle between the Monitor and Anti-Monitor. The Monitor activated her as part of his plan to keep the positive universe ahead. Bright, sexy and a doctor? Sign us up for positive sexual healing.

Silver Samurai

Silver Samurai

Keniuchio Harada is the illegitimate son of a Japanese crime boss. He learned he was a mutant and then applied his skills to further his crime aspirations. You can’t say he didn’t put them to good use as a criminal because he later managed to turn over a new leaf and stay on the straight and narrow. Well, until Blindspot forced him to forget that he was a superhero.

Naiad

Naiad

In her human life, Naiad was a protestor in Alaska that was set on fire and killed. After that, she became a powerful elemental force in the DC universe. Not too much can be said about someone who’s basically a part of nature itself. She makes waves wherever she wants. Sea what we did there?

Sunfire

Sunfire

Shiro Yashida comes from the same clan as the Silver Samurai, but is significantly less criminally inclined. He’s neutral, though the fact that he can generate plasma from his body and was listed as one of the “Legendary Twelve” mutants (as an elemental) is important enough that his presence is necessary in quite a few fights. Most of the time, however, he chooses not to get involved in the X-Men’s affairs despite being a member.

Anime Lounge #04: Junjou Romantica 1

Junjou Romantica banner

Series: Junjou Romantica

Episodes: 1-12

Premise: Junjou Romantica is broken up into three storylines: Romantica, Egoist and Terrorist. Romantica is the story of main couple Misaki Takahashi and Akihiko Usami, who are brought together by Misaki’s older brother, Takahiro, so that Akihiko can tutor Misaki for college entrance exams. It happens that Takahiro announces at the meeting that he is getting married. Akihiko Anime-Loungeand Misaki are upset for different reasons: Misaki, because it means he is losing his brother somewhat after the death of his parents; Akihiko, because he is in love with Takahiro. Romance commences, with a reluctant Misaki along for the ride. Egoist focuses on Nowaki Kusama and Hiroki Kamijou’s developing relationship. Nowaki is considerably younger than Hiroki, who is a classic Japanese literature professor. Thus, their relationship centers on their everyday struggle to be a couple on equal footing. In Terrorist, Yo Miyagi and Shinobu Takatsuki become reacquainted after the end of Yo’s marriage to Shinobu’s sister. Shinobu is in love with Yo, but Yo doesn’t take him seriously. The resulting relationship between the two is interesting and deals with their pasts as brothers-in-law and their age difference. One protagonist in each couple knows of another in another couple. For example, Akihiko was in a relationship with Hiroki and Hiroki works with Yo.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. If you love romantic stories, this is probably for you. A word of caution, though: If you do not like yaoi, do not watch because the series’ relationships are all between men. If you can get past that, you’ll come to love the characters and their relationship struggles.

Breakout character: Akihiko Usami. I love how the character moves from strange to endearing as he struggles to get Misaki to realize that he loves him and that their relationship is destined to be. He’s funny yet smart, and he’s equal parts strange with an obsession with bears in general.

Funniest episode: Episode 4 — “Fear is often greater than the danger itself” — Misaki gets drunk off chocolates and falls asleep cuddling Akihiko’s shirt. This shows Akihiko that Misaki loves him but isn’t ready to admit to it.

Where it’s going: The second series focuses on the trials and tribulations of the three couples and introduces other characters that will become the focus of spinoff series.