Ani-View: Homunculi – Superior Bodies & Complexes

I’ve already done a review of FMAB, but I decided to also focus on the villains of that piece.  Of course I’m talking about the homunculi and their creator, Father.  Everyone knows the history of the homunculi differs from the original series to Brotherhood.  Their story in the original was interesting: they are the souls of people that died and were almost resurrected by the ones they love.  Lust was initially Ishvalan, and Scar’s brother tried to bring her back to life, but unfortunately, Lust was the outcome.  Envy was the miscarriage from Van Hohenheim’s first marriage.  His name certainly suits the way he feels towards Edward and Alphonse.  But, we’re not discussing them.  We’re doing Brotherhood.

  1. Father – originally called ‘the dwarf in the flask’, Father is the head of the homunculi.  Created from the blood of Slave 23, later Van Hohenheim, Father desires to attain the perfect form, knowledge, and immortality.  He is an emotionless being after he separates all his feelings from his soul.  Father’s desire is to turn the country into a transmutation circle, so that he can use human souls as a sacrifice to obtain this.  He wants to become like God, which for a previous dwarf in the flask, is a tall order.  Also, very heretical of him.
  2. Pride – the arrogant, the first homunculus.  Pride was given the original form of Father back when he was in the flask.  Trapped in the body of a child called Selim Bradley, Pride is the right hand homunculus to Father.  Pride fancies himself above not only all humans, but even his fellow homunculi.  Living up to his name, Pride can’t stand to be defeated by measly mortals.  He controls an army of souls within his own Philosopher’s Stone; and it’s ironic that it took only two souls to defeat him: Solf J. Kimblee, and Edward Elric.
  3. Wrath – the furious, the King of Amestris.  Wrath was born from normal parents, but was chosen to be part of the program to choose the puppet king.  He went through rigorous training and was then turned into a homunculus.  He is the only homunculus (besides Greed) who shows some semblance of free will.  He chose his own wife and technically died on his own terms and with a smile on his face.  Wrath was a homunculus I disliked, but I didn’t hate him.  In the end, he was a homunculus we all could respect.
  4. Envy – the jealous, the shapeshifter.  Envy is a character most people hate with a passion because of what he did to most of the characters.  He killed Major Maes Hughes, started the war in Ishval, and personally (basically) tortures Dr. Tim Marcoh.  Envy is the most open with his distaste towards humans, constantly belittling them and saying they’re easily manipulated.  However, it is revealed that the reason he is so cruel is because (true to his name) he is jealous of them.  He is jealous of their strength and the bonds they form.  Humans aren’t so weak after all!
  5. Lust – the lascivious, the seducer.  Lust tends to pick on men because of her abilities.  Lust makes her comments about humanity in general, but she does like sniping about men.  She targets Jean Havoc for information about Mustang, and then her final fight takes place against Col. Roy Mustang.  It is fascinating, her final battle against the Flame Alchemist.  Lust follows orders from Father without hesitation, but she has no goals or ambitions of her own.  In that regard, she’s a little ambiguous.  However, that does not stop her from being a dangerous and beguiling enemy.
  6. Greed – the avaricious, the Ultimate Shield.  Greed is the most diverse because he was basically two characters in one.  Or was it three?  You have the first Greed, he simply defected from Father because he wanted to promote his own agenda.  Greed can not be trusted because his first priority is always his own interests.  The first Greed only wanted to have power, money, sex, status, women, and glory.  That is still a limitless achievement.  But, he gets captured by Wrath and re-assimilated by Father.  Greed Part Deux took control of Ling Yao’s body.  This Greed is a little more complex.  At first, he follows Father, but when memories start resurfacing, he turns like his predecessor.  Of course, we have to remember that Greed is also Ling Yao, and the Prince of Xing whispers in the homunculus’ ear.  In the end, Greed does find out what he was really greedy for.  Acceptance and friendship.
  7. Gluttony – the voracious, the failed portal.  Gluttony is an odd one.  He was usually paired with Lust and they were an odd couple: a tall, sensuous creature; with a squat and ravenous ball.  Gluttony cared for her in a way; which is why he was so angry when Mustang killed her.  Gluttony does not really have much else going for him.  But, there’s only one other homunculus who is more one dimensional than Gluttony.
  8. Sloth, the indolent, the one dimensional.  Life is such a pain.  That’s his line, not mine.  And that about says it all.

And those are all the homunculi for FMAB.  Some are more colorful than others, but they all had some purpose to play throughout the series.  They were all pieces of their Father’s plan and cogs in his machine.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Ani-View: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

I said I would do Brotherhood, and I meant it.

Of course everyone knows that after you watch the original Fullmetal Alchemist, you have to watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.  I actually didn’t know about it and watched the original series, and The Conqueror of Shamballa and I thought that was it.  Then, one of my tweeb buddies told me about Brotherhood and said that it was so much better than the first one.  So, I snagged the DVD’s at a convention and started watching.  It was a little hard at first, only because they basically repeated a couple of episodes from the original.  That bored me a bit, but then they started getting original and my interest was re-piqued.

One of the things I think that made Brotherhood better than the original were the host of new characters.  Well, not really ‘new’.  Brotherhood actually follows the manga, while the original diverted from it.  But, they were kind of new to me.  I loved Prince Ling Yao, and his alter ego, Greed Two.  May Chang, and her beloved panda, Shao May were adorable!  Come on!  We all loved her (especially her initial infatuation with Ed, that seg-wayed into a romance with Al).  Scar was done better this time too.  J. Michael Tatum made him stronger and just an all around better person.  Okay, yes, he did still kill a bunch of people, but the important fact is that in this series, he fights for the good guys (and lives) and gets to kill King Bradley (aka, Wrath).  After that, we have the Northern Wall of Briggs, General Olivier Mira Amstrong.  She is an unstoppable force, who certainly cows her much bigger and powerful brother, Major Alex Luis Armstrong.  After Armstrong, we love her lieutenants: Major Miles and Captain Buccaneer.  Their loyalty to her and to their men is admirable; plus Buccaneer slapping Ed around because he had a pretty mechanic was hysterical!

The chimera that wind up joining forces with Ed and Al are also nice additions.  Al’s chimera are loyal to him because of that talk he gave them.  Ed’s are loyal to him because he saved their lives, possibly above his own.  Although, Ed’s certainly give him more trouble than Al’s, but that’s probably because he rubs a few people the wrong way.

Another factor I liked was having Father as the villain and that he was basically a carbon copy of Van Hohenhiem, Ed and Al’s father.  The villain from the original lacked the subtle ferocity of Father (really, she was so bland, I’ve forgotten her name).  Van Hohenhiem had also been expanded and that did his character favors.  He was powerful, cared for his family (didn’t always know how to show it), and in the end, he got to be with his wife.  Also, we can all agree that the ending of Al getting his body back (Ed sacrificing his alchemy in order to get him back), and Ed and Winry’s admission of love was the best way to end everything.  It had been a long and hard journey, and not everybody came through.  Their casualties included: Maes Hughes (we all knew that one was coming), Capt. Buccaneer, Greed Two, and Old Man Fu.  But, we all know sacrifices must be made in war.  All in all, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was a much better anime compared to its predecessor.  More fun, more characters we fully connected with, and more high pitched Edward Elric lines.

“Who are you calling a pipsqueak-midget?!”

And on that note, it’s been real!

Ani-view: Fullmetal Alchemist, Original Series

We all have watched the original Fullmetal Alchemist series before we watched Brotherhood.  Why?  Because everybody told us in order to appreciate the new series, we had to watch the old one.  I actually didn’t know about FMAB until after I had completed the original series, along with The Conqueror of Shamballa.  So, I am only discussing the original series today, I will do FMAB another time.

For the original series, I was curious about the idea of a young boy with automail limbs, and his brother trapped in a suit of armor.  How could something like that happen; and how could they fix it?  An enigma indeed!  The first episode shows Edward and Alphonse Elric, two orphaned brothers, going to a remote town in the east, where a priest is rumored to have a Philosopher’s Stone (the ever elusive Philosopher’s Stone).  They observe the priest, and figure out that he is still using alchemy to do his miracles, even though he’s claiming other wise.  They then set out to prove that the priest is a fraud.  They also meet a girl, Rose (who, like every other girl in the series, falls in love with Ed).  This girl believes that if she simply has faith and follows Father Cornello, that her dead fiance will be brought back to life.  Quite frequently throughout the original series, the idea of faith and religious fanatics puts Edward Elric in the right when he basically says they’re the reason he’s an atheist.

Rose (got on my nerves, not going to lie) challenges Ed and says he will find happiness if he believes.  Ed brushes her aside and goes on to prove his point by exposing Father Cornello as a charlatan.  From there, Ed gives her advice that we can all agree on, “You have two legs.  Get up and use them.  Keep walking.”  After that first episode, we then get to meet all the other characters of the FMA universe, whom we fall in love with.  We meet Winry Rockbell, and Pinako Rockbell; the erstwhile adoptive family of Ed and Al.  Then, we meet the military folks: Col. Roy Mustang, Maj. Maes Hughes, Lt. Riza Hawkeye, Jean Havoc, Warrant Officer Falman, Sgt. Heysman Breda, Kain Fuery, and Maj. Alex Luis Armstrong (with his habitual stripping and other displays of partial nudity).

The first series deviates from the manga, and Brotherhood definitely has a better ending.  Another fact that kind of annoyed me about the original was the Ed did not really mature.  As a character, he experienced the expanding arc throughout the series, but as a physical person, he did not grow up.  They changed that in Brotherhood and I liked seeing Ed grow from being a kid into a man.  It was very rewarding for him in the end.  Also, I didn’t like the idea of a little kid being Wrath.  Then where does that put Fuhrer Bradley?  Not in a good place, in my opinion.  You definitely feared him more in Brotherhood, even before you knew he was actually the homunculis, Wrath.  And then Selim Bradley… yeah, he annoyed us a lot in Brotherhood, but we that only meant we enjoyed it when he got his *ss handed to him all the more.  And the cliff hanging ending for the entire series that they did not wrap up until The Conqueror of Shamballa left me aching and hoping that they wouldn’t f*ck it up.  They didn’t really, only because Edward and Alphonse wind up back together in the end, but that leaves poor Winry probably spending the rest of her life an engineering spinster (because we know her and Ed were meant for each other).  Kind of leaves something to be desired.  It was enjoyable when I did not know about FMAB, but since I have the entirety of FMAB (several times), I can’t really watch it again.  I mean, really, who does?

And on that note, it’s been real!

Sangawa 2015

I love these anime conventions!  They’re quite a bit of fun!  I first heard about Sangawa through Tekko, as it is organized and run by the same people.  It is an 18+ event, as there is alcohol involved and more adult themed anime and manga.  Fun, right?!  However, in 2015, I was still one year shy of being able to drink, so I only really went because Vic Mignogna, a popular anime voice actor, was going to be there.  My younger brother and a friend of ours agreed that we should go and meet him and get pictures and autographs.

They hold this particular convention in early December every year at a fancy hotel close to the city.  It is a smaller venue than Tekko, which makes it so much more intimate.  Especially after you’ve been drinking several different types of sake (Sangawa 2016/story for another day).  At this Sangawa, I wore an Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood) T-shirt, and stood at the back of the room with my brother at the opening ‘ceremony’.  As we were standing there, a blond man in a black T-shirt walked by us.  I did a double take, poked my brother, and whispered, “That was the pipsqueak.”  He looked at him closer and grinned.  Vic Mignogna welcomed everyone with an unquenchable exuberance.  It was infectious and it made me happy to see it.  Throughout the night, we would sit on panels, go to the video or gaming room, and we even stuck our heads in the small market space.  That room was definitely several sizes smaller than it is at Tekko.

Around 11:00, Vic had a private screening of one of his Star Trek Continued episodes.  My brother and I sat in the front, and that was when I saw something on the menu screen that puzzled me.  I raised my hand like a kid in class and said, “Excuse me?”

Vic Mignogna came over to me and asked, “What is it, sweetie?”  I asked him my question about the menu and he got a slightly shocked look on his face.  “Spoilers!” he said, before he covered my eyes and asked somebody to place something in front of the projector.  Needless to say, I was surprised to have his hand over my eyes for several seconds.  He thanked me for pointing it out when he removed his hand.

“You’re welcome,” was all I could really say.  The screening was fun, but by the end, I had to call it a night.  My brother, our friend, and myself returned the next day and got pictures and autographs.  I got Vic’s autograph on both my FMA Brotherhood DVD’s and a poster.  It was a fun time, and I am going again this year.  The voice actress for Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye (FMA Brotherhood), and the voice actor for the Armored Titan (Attack On Titan) will be the guests this year.  It should be interesting… especially since alcohol will be involved (again).

And on that note, it’s been real!

Ani-view: Black Butler, Part 2

And here’s Part 2!  Okay, like a lot of the fans of the original Black Butler, I was kind of excited for Black Butler II when I found out about it.  It was going to be just as good as the first one!  Or so I had been led to believe.  The first episode begins with introducing us to the clearly disturbed, childish, Alois Trancy.  Alois is a pale comparison to the unbending and very mature, Ciel Phantomhive.  And his butler, Claude Faustus, is once again, just another copycat of Sebastian Michaelis.  Now, being that Sebastian is only one enterprising demon, hungry for human souls; it would stand to reason that there are other enterprising demons, hungry for human souls out there in the world.  But, would they really be living just a county over?  To top it off, Alois’ entire household is comprised of demon servants: the maid, Hannah; and the Three Whispering Bellboys.  That puts the newcomers at an unfair advantage over our favorite 19th Century in-service servants: Bard, Mei-rin, and Finny.

After that, the character explanation for why Alois Trancy behaves the way he does, is rather weak.  Yes, he lost his baby brother; yes, he was kidnapped by a sick old man and abused.  However, you would think that the combination of all those events would have led to a more subdued villain.  Hell!  He wasn’t even the real villain of the story!  That turned out to be Hannah!  Alois should have been so emotionally scarred by everything he went through, that he would withdraw inside a shell.  Live within a bubble, never acknowledge the real world, and not be an active part of London society.  And, another faulty fact about him, if Claude made him believe that Sebastian had been the one to take the soul of his brother, Luka, his obsession would have been with Sebastian from the start.  He wouldn’t have gone after Ciel as a smoke screen period.  Why, you ask?  Because Alois is not a smart character.  Never was.  He would have targeted Sebastian from the very beginning without really hiding his motives.  Why again?  Because he’s NOT Ciel Phantomhive, who is infinitely smarter when it comes to tricking/trapping someone.  Instead, they really made you think Alois’ beef was with Ciel.  Which it wasn’t.

I could rant a little while longer about the ineptitude for this anime to capture the creativity and magic of the first season, but, it’ll just come off like I’m whining.  Which, we all kind of did when we compared the second season to the first in our minds.  Let me just put it to you this way: I wish I could unsee the second season, and forget it existed.

And on that note, it’s been real!

 

Ani-view: Black Butler, Part 1

So, the next anime I started watching was Black Butler.  My brother mentioned that he had watched one episode of this anime in a video critiquing class at his arts school, and said how the concept of a demon butler was interesting.  Needless to say, I went to Tekko one year, found the DVD, and bought it.  I was curious myself, but I wanted to watch it in English.  I know so many people say if you don’t watch it in Japanese, you can’t appreciate it fully.  Bullocks!  I appreciated it more because I didn’t have to quickly read what they were saying, then glance back up to see what they were doing.  Call me a wuss, I don’t care.  Besides, I’ve met several of the actors for the English dubbed that I really can’t watch it in Japanese.  But, I digress…

The first episode perfectly introduced each character without giving too much away of their past: the almost begrudging master, the mischievous butler, the clumsy maid, the hap-hazard gardener, the inexperienced cook, and Tanaka (that about says it all for that character).  Ciel Phantomhive is a serious young boy, who rules his mansion with an iron (but merciful) fist.  Sebastian Michaelis is his ever ready and capable butler.  He’s too perfect in every way; doing other people’s jobs for them, saving their lives, etc.  Mei-rin is the bumbling maid, who has her eyes on Sebastian; always gushing to herself how handsome he is and so on.  Finny is the gardener, who loves the outdoors, but… that’s about all he does.  He can’t actually garden because he doesn’t possess a gentle enough aptitude for it.  Bard (short for Bardroy) is the cook who wouldn’t even get hired to make microwave dinners.  He is incapable of making even a sandwich, and likes to eat things he’s told not to (by Sebastian).  And then there’s Tanaka, who just sits there, laughs lightly, and drinks tea.

The first episode shows the Phantomhive household preparing for and hosting a visitor all the way from Italy.  Every conceivable disaster occurs: the dinner falls through, the gardens are a mess, the dishware is broken, and then some.  Sebastian, using his ever quotable, “If I can’t do this much for my young master, what sort of butler would I be?” line, fixes everything without breaking a sweat.  Ciel Phantomhive is the perfect host, with his staff (almost) being the perfect servants.  At the end, it is revealed the man is a charlatan, a scammer attempting to get more money from Ciel for a failed factory.  For all his planning, he winds up with a broken leg, and in an oven.  He barely escapes, crying for his mother.  Ciel chuckles and then Sebastian puts him to bed.  Sounds normal (head shakes).  The entire series was enjoyable, but as the title says, this is only Part 1.  Obviously, they attempted to remake the magic of the first one in a second season, which… well, that’s an ani-view for another day.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Ani-view: Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok

Alright, so I am introducing a new concept since I mentioned that I love anime so much.  This will be the first review on anime that I will do.  Hence why it is called ‘ani-view’.  The first anime I will be reviewing is called “Mythical Detective Loki: Ragnarok.”  It was the first official anime I ever watched.  I stumbled on it when I was exploring Hulu, and since it said ‘Loki’ (and I love Loki), I was curious.  The anime is about Loki, the Norse God of Mischief.  He has been cast out of Asgard and down to Midgard in the body of a child.  So, he blends in.  He starts a detective agency, with his butler, Yamino (actually one of his sons, Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent); and a silly mortal girl, Mayura.

The adventures they go on always center around Norse myths, as other gods and monsters enter the human world.  However, Loki and Yamino have to keep Mayura in the dark at all times.  They cross paths with Thor, now called Narugami, who has to work an array of part-time jobs in order to pay rent on his apartment.  The cases are always dangerous and quirky, and Loki’s relationship with Mayura is fascinating.

Several times, Odin (who never actually makes an appearance) sends others to kill Loki.  He originally sens Thor (Narugami), to kill Loki, but he refuses when he realizes that Loki is no threat as a child.  After him, Heimdall, the Watcher God, attempts to kill Loki for revenge for his missing eye.  His threat against Loki targets Mayura once or twice, which does not sit well with Loki.  After failing many times, Heimdall and Loki come to an understanding.  Next, he sends Wyrd, Verdandi, and Skuld, the Norse Goddesses of Fate.  They each take turns trying to kill him, and each time they fail.  Eventually, they also realize that it is an exercise in futility.  Finally, one more person attempts to kill Loki, but it is not at the behest of Odin.  It is more personal as it is Hela, Loki’s only daughter.  Her motives are vague at first, but after a while, it is revealed that she is unhappy about the neglect she believes she suffered at his hands.

The battle they could have had was averted because Loki chose to deal with her alone.  Spoiler alert!  She dies in his arms, content that he did love her.

All in all, the anime was a good anime to start out with.  I enjoyed it and was upset when they did not make a second season (typical).  Especially since they left the first season with a very obvious lead into ‘a’ second season.  One of these years at Tekko, I will have to dress as Loki from this anime, and see if anybody recognizes me.  😉

If you ever watch anime and haven’t seen it, or would like to watch anime, I do recommend “Mythical Detective Loki: Ragnarok”.

And on that note, it’s been real!