Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 12

The Death Note saga comes to an end in Volume 12

Here we are, at last. The last volume of Death Note is here, and I could not be any happier to close the chapter on manga’s most self-righteous and sadistic character, Light Yagami. From the very beginning, he weaved a great web of deceit by utilizing a weapon of mass destruction. From test killing various criminals to intentionally killing international police officials (including this millennium’s Sherlock Holmes) and having the audacity to play God while wielding absolute power over every well-known police and security agency on Earth, Light has done it all. Rest assured, I will soldier though Mr. Yagami’s foolishness while doing this review.
After a successful attack on NHN studios, Mello and his partner, Matt, were able to capture Takada, bringing a slight interruption to Light’s and Near’s decisive battle set to take place in days. Mello, being clever, forces Takada to undress herself to remove any tracking devices, preventing her bodyguards and the police to find them. Mello cleverly places Takada’s outer clothes in a shipping box and leaves it at a package delivery company. Unknown to him, however, that Takada had a piece of the Death Note, a pen and a secret cell phone to contact Light.

Once Takada contacts Light, she tells him that she killed Mello, and Light fiendishly acts concerned in front of the task force members by asking where she was. At the same time, the news reports Matt’s death as he was shot by Takada’s bodyguards while attempting to fire smoke bombs at them. On the way to rescue Takada, Light uses a hidden piece of the Death Note to kill her after she calls Mikami to tell him to text her two days’ worth of criminals to kill. Near also tries to help with the search but is too late when the task forces find Mello and Takada dead after a fire, thanks to Light.
While Light and Near made their final adjustments for their last battle, NHN and other television stations begin to plead Kira to host his messages. On the day of the final showdown, Linder of the SPK drives Misa and Mogi, dropping the former at a deluxe hotel suite while driving to the meeting site. After arriving at the Yellow Box Warehouse and checking for wire taps and hidden camera, Light, Near and their allies met face to face. Near then asks everyone to wait 30 minutes for Mikami to show up and instructs everyone to act normal should he try to peep in on the meeting. Unknown to Mikami, Near has tampered with the real pages of the notebook. Once Light figured out that he was exposed as Kira, he first claims Near is setting him up and finally confesses that he is Kira.
As Light continued to bask in his “victory,” Near interrupts that he not only tampered with the Death Note Mikami had on him, but also he messed with the other one he kept in a bank deposit box. Light, still delirious, tried to kill Near with a hidden piece of the Death Note, but Matsuda shoots him multiple times. Light asks Ryuk to kill Near and the others with his Death Note. Ryuk refuses, stating that Light is near death because of his wounds; he would take Light’s life and did so without a second thought.
A year later, Matsuda and Ide talk about the case, and Matsuda stated that he believed that Near controlled Mikami. At that moment, Ide gets a call from Aizawa, who is now deputy superintendent of the NPA. Aizawa states that Near needs help investigating a drug syndicate’s deal in Japan occurring at the Yellow Box Warehouse. Once arriving, they join Mogi and the task force’s newest member, Yamamoto, joins the meeting with L. Meanwhile, a gathering of Kira worshippers convenes in a secluded area where their priestess (looking like Misa) place places a candle and prays for Kira’s return.
From beginning to end, Volume 12 of Death Note did not disappoint. All the writing and artwork surpassed previous editions, giving a great series a well-earned sendoff with hopes of continuation in the future. Ohba-san’s writing was spectacular in building suspense. Obata-san’s artwork was brilliant, keeping the suspense and action alive and allowing readers to see the aftermath of Kira’s (possible) demise. I am giving well-deserved praise to Viz Media’s Tesuichiro Miyaki for translation and adaptation that perfectly told the story, making this final volume — like the other English releases of Death Note — re-readable from beginning to end.
Death Note Volume 12 did not disappoint. I would like to thank you, Otaku Corner readers, for joining me through this series. One piece of advice: Be wary of shinigami and always leave out juicy apples for them.

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Top 5 on The Strip: Marvel stuff we’re anticipating edition

Loki series season 2

We’re huge fans of Loki around here, and the God of Mischief’s first season of his Disney Plus showcase was fantastic. Suspenseful and weird, Tom Hiddleston’s delightful Asgardian prince steals the Space Stone during the time heist as depicted in Avengers: Endgame and essentially learns there are variants of himself, and that the multiverse exists. The character development and growth are what did it for us, and we can’t wait to see where the flawed-but-redeemed god goes in the follow-up.

 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The upcoming film focusing on Marvel superhero Shang-Chi has the potential to be huge. Featuring wuxia and a comic book correct version of the Mandarin, Shang-Chi looks to be a great mix of action and story, with our beloved Michelle Yeoh in yet another MCU role. We’re interested to see how the Ten Rings plays into the larger MCU and their power and scope as compared to other artifacts we’ve seen. Also, lead actor Simu Liu is hot, as is the esteemed legend Tony Leung.

 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The sequel to our top-three Marvel movie contender is shaping up nicely. We were initially unsure how the film would move forward with the death of Chadwick Boseman, but it seems that it will be addressed in the opening scenes. Confirming that he will not be recast is a great start, because we wouldn’t watch it if Marvel did. There will be a new Black Panther mantle-holder, and we expect this follow-up will be glorious.

 

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

We like Dr. Strange around here, and he’s important enough to warrant another few movies. With the end of WandaVision, Dr. Strange’s sequel film will be important in the grand scheme of Marvel’s machine for Phase Four. The events of the first MCU show and Loki made it plain that Dr. Strange will be needed to traverse the madness unleashed by the introduction of the multiverse and Kang the Conqueror, so this is film has quickly become important to the future of the MCU.

 

New squads introduced

It did not escape notice that there were several characters introduced recently that could potentially form other groups outside of the Avengers. WandaVision introduced Wiccan and Speed, Wanda’s kids in Young Avengers; Monica Rambeau, who is a Captain Marvel titleholder; and, Agatha Harkness, who could join any number of villain groups. Captain America and the Winter Soldier introduced Eli Bradley, who is Patriot of the Young Avengers; Val, who is Madame Hydra at some point; and, U.S. Agent, a member of Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts. Loki gave us a hybrid Lady Loki/Enchantress in Sylvie and Kid Loki, who is part of Young Avengers. Black Widow provided Yelena Belova, who becomes Black Widow II, and Shang-Chi’s trailer confirmed Abomination is still around.

Property Review: The Boys Season 1

The Boys are back in town

Amazon, 2019

In your face. Gruesome. Over the top. Raw.

That’s how we’d describe the visceral reaction we had to The Boys in its inaugural season on Amazon Prime. We were familiar with the Garth Ennis graphic novel from many years back, and we were eagerly anticipating the adaptation once it was announced.

It did not disappoint.

Opening the story, A-Train, a speedster like Marvel’s Quicksilver, literally runs through protagonist Wee Hughie’s (a phenomenal Jack Quaid) girlfriend Robin accidentally while hopped up on drugs. Him barreling into her at superhuman speed causes her to explode instantly, traumatizing Hughie as he was holding her hands when the collision happened. Hughie can’t find solace in Robin’s death and the aftermath of receiving compensation for his loss. Wandering aimlessly in grief, he finds like-minded individuals starting with Billy Butcher, played by the breathtaking Karl Urban, who advises him to get his hands dirty and get revenge on the Seven because it’s the right thing to do and it’s “diabolical.”

Spreading the diabolical is the omnipresent Homelander, played brilliantly by Antony Starr. If you ever wonder what mixing Superman and Captain America with a side of Bizarro would create, you have Homelander. Homelander, with his all-American good looks and charm is, in reality, one of the most depraved super beings in the history of super beings. In his capacity as the leader of the Seven, a corporate sponsored superhero group, Homelander keeps the subordinates in check but thinks nothing of murdering a plane full of people twice (!) to achieve his own goals or keep the Vought International name clean.

The twists and turns and discovery of Homelander’s devious fakeout of the general population is equal parts engrossing, fun, gruesome and, well, diabolical. Everyone in the Seven has some sort of issue, but Homelander is the cream of the crop. Or so he says. By the end of the season, you will come to love and hate Homelander enough that if you haven’t read the graphic novel, you will hunt it down just to get the unfiltered version of the super menace.

Everyone plays their role to perfection, just nice enough on the surface but nasty enough on the other side that you know the mass marketing appeal of the characters isn’t going to last long. The story moves along at a nice pace, getting you to know the Seven and their impact on the world around them, and their counterparts in Butcher’s gang. It’s a fun, solid ride that makes you question everything you know about superheroes. What if they weren’t benevolent do-gooders and did stuff like participate in an orgy — the upcoming third season Herogasm arc? Who keeps them in check and how is that accomplished when they have powers that can literally change the world but they’re incompetent and amoral? The Boys aims to understand all of that in the goriest way possible. Season 1 ends on a cliffhanger and sets up future goodness in the already-released Season 2 and the coming Season 3. Expect more diabolical fun because this brilliant sendup of comic book follies is fantastic at judging those who save us.

Like the comics: 9

Acting: 8

Story: 10

Total: 27/30 or 9

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 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Marvel character highlight #28: Iron Fist

Name: Daniel Rand-K’ai

Alias: Iron Fist, Daredevil, Daredevil 2.0, Devil, Spider-Man

Affiliation: Defenders, Heroes for Hire, Rand Corporation, Immortal Weapons, New Avengers, Thunderbolts, Midnight Sons

Special abilities: Chi augmentation; peak human endurance, strength, speed, agility, and stamina; superhuman pain and injury resistance; energy absorption; and, a master martial artist and acrobat

Background: Danny Rand was born to businessman Wendell Rand, who once lived in K’un Lun. K’un Lun, situated in another dimension, could only be found once every 10 years through an interdimensional nexus. Through treachery, Rand’s parents were killed and the people of K’un Lun found Rand and trained him. When he was 19, he fought to acquire the power of the Iron Fist, through a fight to the death with Shou-Lao the Undying. Winning the battle, he earned the power and returned to America. Once he returned, he was introduced to Colleen Wing and her father and later learned the truth about his parents’ murders. Rand later teamed with Misty Knight and Luke Cage to form Heroes for Hire and the Defenders.

Relationships: Misty Knight, partner and former lover; Luke Cage, partner; Colleen Wing, partner

First Versus appearance: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Appearances in other media:

Television: The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload, Wolverine: Weapon X (motion comic), Avengers: Secret Wars, Marvel Future Avengers, Iron Fist (Netflix series), The Defenders (Netflix series), Luke Cage (Netflix series)

Video games: Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (SNES, Sega Genesis), Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Avengers Alliance, LittleBigPlanet, Marvel Heroes, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Disney Infinity 3.0, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

 

Anime Lounge #20: My Hero Academia Season 1

Series: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 1 to 13

Premise: A young boy, Izuku Midoriya, from Japan lives in a world where at least 80 percent of society is born with some type of extra special ability, called quirks. Quirks are used by a segment of the population to fight crime, and Midoriya idolizes the world-famous All Might, the No. 1-ranked hero. After a chance encounter with his idol, quirkless Midoriya begins to train with All Might to gain his passed-down quirk One for All. Midoriya’s journey to becoming the No. 1 hero is chronicled as he joins U.A. High School and learns the true meaning of becoming a hero.

Is it worth watching?: YES. We love the X-Men, and My Hero Academia is basically an anime version of the Marvel staple. If you love super-powered antics, compelling heroes and villains and tight, deep writing, My Hero Academia is a phenomenal choice. It starts a little slow, but once it gets going, it gets GOOD.

Breakout character: Todoroki Shoto. In the first season, it’s all about the dual-natured boy who wields fire and ice as one quirk. He seems frosty at first but his introduction is nothing short of dazzling, and he quickly becomes a favorite because of his power and stoic expression. Iida Tenya and Midoriya are close in terms of engaging. You want to root for both characters as they grow. All the teachers are top-notch characters as well, but Shota Aizawa aka Eraserhead is our favorite. He stands out from the pack in terms of his cool but basic costume and the sheer strength of his quirk Erasure, which nullifies quirks within his vision range until he blinks.

Best episode: Episode 5: What I Can Do For Now. Midoriya has already entered Class 1A by passing the entrance exam, but now he’s in the big leagues and has to demonstrate what he knows about One For All. The cool thing about this episode is, while Midoriya knows he doesn’t have control over the quirk just yet, he doesn’t give up. In fact, he tries hard enough that Aizawa-san realizes that he’s trying to get the quirk together. Aizawa has enough foresight to realize that Midoriya doesn’t have control because he likely wasn’t born with it like the others in his class. Thus, he starts becoming suspicious but curious enough to allow Midoriya to continue in the class. This shows growth for all involved in just five episodes.

Where it’s going?: As Midoriya gets more comfortable with having the ultra-powerful One for All, look for the stakes to ramp up for Class 1A as they train to become heroes.

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book squads edition

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The green crew with attitude shows up on a variety of our favorite lists. We grew up in an era where the Turtles ruled everything for a good solid three years, culminating with the second live-action film. What most of the youngins didn’t know is that the Turtles got their start in comics in black-and-white incarnations in 1984. The comics are highly sought after now because of their rarity.

The X-Men: Charles Xavier’s men have always been our favorite group of superheroes. The merry mutants have always been at the forefront of societal issues (mutantism equals racism to a degree), and the group has always been relatable. We’re excited that the comic book mainstays are coming into the MCU at some point; they deserve to be done justice.

The Avengers: Given there are numerous lineups and different locations for the Avengers, we must narrow down this pick to any squad featuring Steve Rogers’ Captain America. To us, it isn’t the Avengers proper unless Rogers is involved to lead the charge. And, yes, we’re quite fond of the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the group.

Justice League: No list on squads would be complete without the current DC universe lineup. Everyone on the squad is necessary: There is no Justice League without Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman or Cyborg. Despite the most recent movie not being a cohesive flick, the squad represented there is the core experience that is the Justice League. Also, it made Aquaman cool.

The Boys: Relatively obscure until the recently fantastic Amazon Prime show, the Boys are great at one thing: stopping the diabolical supes of their universe. Billy Butcher is cool as hell, and his entire crew is messed up in some way but loyal and awesome. In the same vein, the Seven are amoral and ridiculously lead by Homelander but just as shady and more weird than the Boys.

Marvel character highlight #27: MODOK

Name: M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing)

Alias: George Tarleton (real name), Big Head, Chairman, Damocles Rivas, Gerlach, M.O.D.O.C. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing), M.O.D.O.F. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Fun), Mister Potato Head, Moddy, the Saint, Scientist Supreme

Affiliation: A.I.M., Intelligencia, K Sector

Special abilities: Super genius intellect, telekinetic blasts, force field projection, telepathy, mind control

Background: George Tarleton worked as a technician at A.I.M. in Pennsylvania. He was experimented on by the Scientist Supreme, which resulted in a mutation of a large head and dramatically increased intellect. Once the experimentation was complete, George was dubbed M.O.D.O.C (Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing) and placed in a weight-assisting vehicle to support his comically oversized head. Because of his vastly superior intellect, M.O.D.O.K. quickly overthrew his former boss and changed his name to reflect his murderous mindset. M.O.D.O.K. has since been depowered and returned to a normal human state by Amadeus Cho (aka Totally Awesome Hulk).

Relationships: M.O.D.O.K. Superior, clone; Sean Madigan (Head Case), son

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Appearances in other media:

Television: Iron Man (1994 animated series), Iron Man: Armored Adventures, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy (animated short), Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Spider-Man (2010s animated series), New Warriors (canceled show), M.O.D.O.K. (upcoming animated series)

Video games: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Iron Man 3: The Official Game, Marvel Heroes, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Future Fight, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel’s Avengers

Anime Lounge #19: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi Propose Hen OVA

Series: Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi Propose Hen

Episodes: 1

Premise: This is the OVA follow up to the goings on in boys’ love series Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi. In this short episode, one of the crew working at Marukawa Publishing is getting married and the entire shojo manga department, Emerald, is invited. During the proceedings, Onodera and Takano interact with guests and each other. It comes to light that Takano has a certain thing on his mind.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. If you’ve watched all other seasons of Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi — which you should have — this is a delightful treat. It’s a cute sort of wrap up showing just where everyone is now.

Breakout character: Takano Masamune. He always stands out as one of the main characters but here he is just too delicious in his hinting.

Best episode: N/A

Where it’s going?: Even though it’s not what you’d expect for Takano and Onodera after some time away, it’s obvious that their relationship has progressed. Hopefully, in the future we will see something along the lines of Onodera and Takano getting married as well.

Property Review: Iron Man

The first coming of Tony Stark is one of the best MCU origin stories

Iron Man
Marvel Studios, 2008

The one that started them all. The metaphorical start of Robert Downey Jr.’s comic book-like redemption arc. The birthplace of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The beginning of the beginning. All of these titles are appropriate for Iron Man, the 2008 origin story of veteran Avenger Tony Stark. Another title to throw in there? Magnificent.

It’s not just the tight story telling or excellent acting chops of the main cast. It’s also seeing Stark make his turn into the Avenger we all know and love. Stark starts out super hedonistic and self-serving. Through his wounding and subsequent capture by the Ten Rings organization, little by little, you see Stark have the needed epiphany that he was, in fact, War Machine, not Iron Man. Half of its fun ride comes from this need to see him come to that realization. The other half is, of course, learning that Stark can apply his genius for good and productive ways while still being the billionaire philanthropic playboy he declares himself to be to Steve Rogers in the later Avengers film.

Where Iron Man particularly succeeds, however, is the parallel Stark shares with perfect portrayer Robert Downey Jr. What most new generation Marvel fans don’t realize is, is when Iron Man was casted, Downey Jr. was not the bankable star that he is now. The man’s past is well known to older fans and caused several — including himself — to pause.

But the single most compelling thing about Downey Jr. is his will to better himself, work every day like most others to redeem himself and grow. That indomitable will shows in every second that Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man. He is Iron Man. He is the living embodiment of the character who struggled to redeem himself and be a team player. Downey Jr. is such perfect casting that there is no one else that could ever step into the role. He became the character.

And for all that Iron Man succeeds in doing bombastically, it quietly sets up the rest of the cinematic universe perfectly. Iron Man in its stumbling glory is what we now know as the standard for a Marvel movie. It makes Stark relatable, tells his superhero origin story and sets up future films with a deftness that reminds us that there is, in fact, a plan for all of this. Now that we’ve seen that plan unfold, we can come back and praise the beginning for all that it is. The heart and soul of the MCU lives on.

Like the comics: 8

Acting: 8.5

Story: 8

Total: 24.5/30 or 8

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 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book games edition

1. Marvel vs. Capcom series

If there were ever a polarizing yet fun fighting game, it’s probably Marvel vs. Capcom. The first few Versus games are fun yet broken, but you don’t know broken until you get to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Spending 18 hours at a tournament to watch the same 10 characters fight in teams of three makes you dislike and love a game at the same time.

2. Batman Arkham series

Batman’s run of action-adventure games has quite a few standouts. Rocksteady outdid themselves in letting you become the Dark Knight and immerse yourself in the world of Gotham and the insane asylum that is Arkham. Any entries are classics that shouldn’t be missed.

3. X-Men arcade game

“Welcome to die!” is a pleasant yet infamous greeting waiting for you at the end of the X-Men quarter muncher. Gold and Blue ’90s-era X-Men join and fight in a team of four to take on the Brotherhood of Mutants. It’s a fun romp that reminds you of how powerful the original animated series was in terms of impact on gamers and comic book nerds alike.

4. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game

If there is ever a game on this list that personifies GI and its life in the ’90s, it’s this sequel. Easily one of the best quarter stealers of all time, TMNT2 took everything from the comics, the original animated TV show and the movies and turned it into an ultra-fun excursion in the world of the lean mean green fighting machine.

5. Marvel Ultimate Alliance

An insanely fun brawler that’s chock full of Marvel awesomeness, the first Ultimate Alliance game is fun and full of depth. It’s also co-op and introduced you to the then-obscure Marvel characters that are now household names. I didn’t know the Winter Soldier then or Fing Fang Foom but I bet I do now. This is the Marvel encyclopedia.