Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou vs. Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou

Probably not worth writing a review for, because it was too dull for me. Lost interest in the series, because I guess that I finally realized how repetitive it had become, and it was a complete turn off for me. Not the OP however!! The OP was probably the only reason for me to watch the show.

After 2 brilliant seasons of ‘dandiya’, I was anticipating that the third one might score once again in the creativity department. How wrong I was. There’s practically no reason for anyone (especially if you enjoyed the first 2 seasons) to watch this. Okay, here comes a spoiler: Karasuno wins. Happy now? I am surprised, that although I enjoyed the first 2 seasons so much because of the new combos and strategies that both teams were coming up with to defeat one another at all costs. Season 3 offered nothing new, no new combos or anything, just that the man of the match this time was Tsukishima. Just imagine how boring it must have been it was only 10 epis long but it made me feel way more bored than the previous other seasons. To be honest, the previous 2 seasons were not boring at all!!

And surprise, surprise! It is in the top 10 on MAL. Which just goes to show (in my case) that the popular choice of the public and my choice intersect at around 80%. Meaning, I do not agree with the popular choice of around 20% of anime.

I think that after this, I have lost the Haikyuu!! fever. But I shall come back to listen to the OP since, in all three seasons the OPs have blown my mind and I listen to them even today!!

 

Manga Review: Bleach

Before I begin describing Bleach, I should make it clear that Bleach is quite an underrated production (my guess is because of the anime which forked from the original story) since the Manga on the whole was pretty exciting. I can sense the reason for the hype for Bleach, but trust me… The hype would have been more if maybe the anime reproduction was a little better.

So what comes to mind when someone says Bleach? Detergent, eh? (Just kidding, even if you were thinking of it) Well, to a person like me who analyses anime (and stories as such) it didn’t feel as though the flagship victory of Bleach belonged to either Zanpaktous, or Bankais but instead the main glory of Bleach were its characters! (You probably think that I say this for every review, um yeah, you are sort of right). But it’s true. Really. I do mean what I say, that the most important point going for Bleach is really its characters.

Did you notice how new characters were introduced with the beginning of a sub arc (within an arc. To be quite fair here, Bleach can only be said to have 3 arcs). Hiyori, Risa, Keisei, Shinji and later Nel, Dondochakka, Pesche, etc. you realize that these characters played a huge role in those arcs and even got mixed up in on the action in subsequent arcs. It was quite masterful of Kubo to juggle the personalities of as many characters and choreograph some great conversation between them to build their roles in the story and build the story at the same time. Pretty cool, huh! Every single character who plays some part (even a small one) has been fleshed out pretty well if you ask me. And it is the conversation between them that are so lively and comical that it makes you feel as though Bleach is not just some Shounen-action dance, but a well nurtured baby of Kubo Tite.

Speaking of arcs, there are only 3 as I have mentioned before. First is the best in my opinion. Second is the shortest, but has the least amount of character development (a.k.a my satisfaction level), and the third is neither the longest nor the best out of the three, and it’s not the worst either… Better to be on one side rather than in the middle, anyway that doesn’t even make sense. But the first arc (Aizen arc, even the name of this arc is a spoiler darn it!) captures the true colours of what Bleach can offer you. Sucks right? The first is the best and you just have to read 250~ more chapters after it just to finish the manga. Don’t fret, it’s not bad as I make it sound. On the contrary, it is… wait for it… Boring! The last two arcs really lack what the first arc had in abundance, comic relief. Although, the amount of fighting that takes place in the final two arcs in 250~ chapters is almost about equal to the amount of fighting that takes place in the first 400~ chapters (first arc). Just imagine, you have to go through hours of text about two men provoking and taunting each other and talking about how great they are (and in the end both sides are beaten up pretty badly). So you know now what you are up against.

Well, look here now. On the bright-side I will make a prediction based on the fact that although I haven’t watched the anime and I have no details at all about where it forks away from the Manga that the manga is definitely better than its anime counterpart. Let me explain to you why this fact seems so apparent to me. Because of the ratings of Bleach on MAL. Wait a second. It seems like the manga has got an even worse rank than the anime (x3 times bad). I might be wrong here. But that shouldn’t be a problem, you can both watch and read it if you like and decide for yourself ūüôā

The only other problem that I noticed was the way the manga was the drawing of the fights was quite unintelligible. I mean honestly, I gave up trying to decipher what was going on in the picture. Like dude! If you are going to make a manga that’s mostly about fighting, at least make sure that you can draw the fights properly! Pah! That was the most annoying part. But I got used to it after a while. Also, it seemed as though the final arc ended a bit abruptly. I thought it would go on for at least 25 more chapters… Well, whatever, never mind.

As the conclusion, I would say that if you ain’t got time, read the first arc and then jump to the last chapter. If you think about it, the number of character additions keeps on reducing as the number of arcs increases. Members of Xucution in the 2nd arc (that’s around 6 I suppose) and the 5 members of the Zero division in the 3rd. In other words, Bleach loses what it had going for it in the first arc. Just look how many characters were introduced there (well of course it was the first arc, but even then. Characters being the charm of Bleach it would seem that it became a little rusty as the story went forward). Trust me, that might just as well be the best advice of the day given to you.

Haikyuu!! Season 2

This review had been pending for several months now, I watched Haikyuu!! S2 before my finals, and then my vacations had a lot of hustling, but now as I can sit on my swiveling computer chair and relax it might be a good time to pen down my thoughts on this anime.

Haikyuu!! is clearly a unique anime, because there’s no anime that’s as good as this! S1 was a smash-hit already, then the creators had to come up with the second season, which was a continuation of the first and when I thought S1 was as good as it gets, S2 surpassed my expectations! You might have guessed, it has become my favorite sports anime series.

So this time, I.G decided to spice things up by changing the mostly male demographic by adding¬†one¬†more female. Hurrah for the improv. But in any case, not like there were hints of romance. OK, maybe yes. Wait, lemme think… What?! No! You call that romance!

So yeah, Haikyuu!! S2 mostly has romance in it, more than volleyball. Yachi-san becomes Hinata’s love of life, he quits volleyball, gets married to her, and THE END!

Watch the anime, if you haven’t yet ūüėČ

Summing up MOBA

Recently, I made the big decision of quitting my temporarily largest addiction: MOBA games. I had to one time or the other, for fear of becoming a gaming couch potato. But I am thankful for making that spontaneous decision which brought more good than I expected.

But since MOBA was something that I gave a LOT of my time to and dedicated hours of thinking and understanding to, I decided to sum up my experiences while stuck in its delirium. For those who are not aware, MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. I had been posting my views about two major games in this category for the last couple of months.

The reason this genre is so addictive is because of its unpredictability and the numerous combinations of heroes/champions and items that can be played with and bought in the games. If you’ve read my previous articles, you know that I am talking about Dota 2 and LoL. People still play even though there is hardly any choice of maps. That alone tells us how insanely addictive it can be.

The most important thing that you must focus on in the game can differ from game to game, or character to character or even position to position. It is complex, and not only depends on a player’s expertise in hand-eye coordination but also on their team picks and even the opponent’s team picks. The possibilities do not end there. As the game progresses, players accumulate gold which can be used to buy items. Those items have abilities as well.

Despite all that clutter and complexity, one thing is clear, your character should aim to level up as fast as possible. Items can offer bonus stats, but the real boost comes from levelling up. Which is why in pro tournaments, we don’t find players picking up all the attack damage and powerful items whenever they have enough money. Rather they communicate with their team and decide strategically which item must they pick.

It is a team game of course, which means that the responsibility of both winning and losing are partly on everyone’s shoulders. But that also means that if one out of the five players is not playing well, the match may well be in jeopardy. It happens all the time.

To conclude, the only logical thing that I can say confidently is that there is no way to predict if your next match will be a victory or defeat. You just can’t say. It’s a pity but that’s what makes it all the more exciting, right?

A Pale View of Hills

Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel. What really enticed me about this was the feeling of anticipation of something serious about to happen throughout the story was amazing. In the end however, nothing special happened. Ishiguro is known for his two novels turned into films: “Never let me go” and “The Remains of the day” which won the Man Booker prize. For his first book, this seemed like an experiment he conducted to observe how people would react because it felt like he was holding something back. I really liked the slow pacing since it fit the theme perfectly. There were the occasional moments of “suspense” which were sketched out vaguely. At the end, it left me a little confused because I thought he would clear up a few doubts towards the end like what became of Mariko and her Mom? I would assume that Frank took them to America (though I have a little doubt in mind). Also, who is Etsuko’s second husband? Shigeo Matsuda? What happened of Ogata-san? As you can see, the book left a lot of loose ends. I wish Ishiguro would have answered these doubts but nevertheless the story left a good impression on me.

Dota 2 vs LoL 2

After playing League for a while, my impression on the game has changed drastically although, certain things I had said in my first post are pretty much the same. I have mostly been playing with Master Yi. His strengths are attack speed and attack damage. It’s best to build him with those two aspects in mind. As for his defence, it’s quite non-existent. He will not survive a gank, he can escape using his ulti at best. With Master, you will either lose the game badly or win it like it is the best game you’ve played in your life. Depends on your team and the champions they pick.

Enough of that. LoL has a 1-Dimensional gameplay compared to Dota 2, I’ll be honest with you here. There are two major things I found lacking in LoL, but which are very much in abundance in Dota 2. The first is the champions themselves. Their abilities are primarily attack based, if not occasionally causing stuns or slowing movement.¬†It’s all about how much damage you can inflict versus how much you can concede.¬†Unlike¬†Dota 2 where different heros are known¬†for¬†some special ability that they have. In LoL nobody cares! Because¬†you don’t really have to care. Right-click to win.¬†This very flaw of champions not having a “character” of their own is the¬†main reason for the 1-Dimensionality of this game.

The second aspect is complementary to the first, in the sense that even the items do not have any special “characteristics”. All they give you is extra attack damage, or magical damage, critical strike, life¬†steal, yada yada yada… Quite contrary to Dota 2 items. Almost half (or even more) of Dota 2 items have some active ability and a subsequent cooldown. It adds a whole new dimension to the game! It’s not just that, even the abilities that the items have are unique amongst themselves, like the Bloodstone with which you can commit suicide and hence not feed the opponent with experience and gold. As a result,¬†Dota 2 is much harder than LoL on many levels, and is also way more serious. If you have watched tourneys you’d know. Once I saw LoL players singing songs before the start of the game and some even had a victory dance which they performed after they had won! Dota 2? Nothing of that sort. Can’t blame them though, look at those freaking huge prize pools ESPORTS puts up. Better commentators and overall production for Dota 2 although LoL is the game having more players per month. I am sure that they see a lot of potential in Dota 2. It feels great watching Dota 2 matches though. I will say that it depends more¬†on the skill of the player than on the hero that he/she selects. However, LoL isn’t like that. From their pool of 100+ champions, very few even get played with in tourneys and nearly the same ones get banned all the time. I would say that’s a turn off because the team that has the strongest picks will win. And that’s lame, especially after you’ve played Dota 2. I just play LoL because it’s easier, and people are cool.

The Game of Thrones

Possibly one of the greatest stories ever created by humans, a legendary book series turned TV adaption by the famous George R. R. Martin is the best book that I have come across so far. So good it was, and so much thrill I got from it, is unforgettable! With some nerve wracking plot twists that you will not see coming and stupendous characters, GoT has outdone itself.

I was introduced to GoT a few years ago when I heard friends talking about it excitedly. But that really didn’t pique my interest. I was into other things back then. But recently, I joined¬†a library and they happened to have Game of Thrones. So I decided to see what all the hype was about. Then it began, the endless adventure and lasted around 800 pages yet which seemed like a teaser for the story still to come! When a masterful plot and great story writing come together, this is the fantastic product that they create. The first book was published in 1995, which is quite long ago. Never have I heard of it before. Quite surprising, that. It became really popular when HBO launched the GoT TV series.

Maybe there plenty of gore and sex, but if you’d like to bathe in maturity here is a golden opportunity. Martin kisses goodbye to naivety and brings the darkest part of our minds come alive with so much cunning that will keep you gripped¬†till the end no matter what! There are a few main characters through whom he narrates the story in 3rd person. Ned, Catelyn, Tyrion, Robb, Jon, Bran, Arya, Daenerys¬†and Sansa were the main characters in the first book of Song of fire and ice which is the name of the series GoT is a part of.

If maturity disturbs you, the TV series is no different. But trust me, you would want to read the book than watch the series to enjoy everything the author poured out into the book. Personally, my favourite character is Tyrion because of his cunning, calm character and the way he can retort to anything spoken to him. It’s really quite amazing how much character development he got and you get to see several sides of his personality like his will to save Catelyn even though it was her who captured him. Tyrion may seem like an evil character, but so is everyone else in that case. The other character I adore is Daenerys. Although not so much in the TV series. She is supposed to be a very powerful person which I felt her actress missed out on. The first book ends on a neutral note, but exciting note. While Daenerys becomes mother to the 3 dragons, Robb Stark becomes the Lord of Winterfell and their banners and they separate from the Seven Kingdoms. Sansa and Arya are still in King’s Landing where prince Joffery is wreaking¬†havoc.

I felt like Ned and Catelyn¬†were the main reason behind the whole crisis that occurred with Ned’s eventual death. He made the biggest blunder by going to the King’s Landing with Robert at the start of the book and almost as a price that he had to pay he was beheaded. None of this would have actually happened if he refused to become Hand of the king. The worst part of it was, not only did he lose all of his personal guard, his daughters were both in a bad position, his wife had to flee and his son had to go to war.

The character who most people will like, maybe not as a favourite nor as their least favourite is Jon Snow. There is a lot to be said about this guy. His life has been terrible because of how his name got tainted with ‘bastard’ and it was none of his fault. Jon Snow’s life on the Wall always served as a good distraction from all the politics and war going on at other times in the book.

I’ll conclude by saying, I can’t wait to read the next book A Clash of Kings!

 

Dota 2 vs. LoL

Probably one of the biggest debates out there! Dota 2, a game started in 2009 and completed in 2013 created by Valve with help of IceFrog and League of Legends a game released in October of 2009 are one of the most formidable rivals in the gaming industry. With Dota 2 comes stunning graphics and spectacular gameplay integrated with Steam where as, LoL has some really interesting background stories of the champions and large amounts of art created by their developers Riot Games.

LoL was officially there on the scene first! Which is why they have amassed a larger number of audience than has Dota 2. There are other reasons behind this, like the huge size of Dota which is like 17 GB whereas LoL is just about a third if that. Another reason is that Dota 2 relies on more powerful PCs which can pose a problem to those who still use ancient machines. LoL is a little lax with its graphics requirements, but after playing both games in full graphics settings, it becomes hard to distinguish between which is better.

Coming to the graphics, LoL terrain and buildings have a much smoother look and they actually look better than Dota 2 buildings. However, heroes look better than the champions in LoL and so do creeps than the minions. LoL offers more than one map unlike Dota 2 where players have to play¬†play on the same old map over and over again, though that does not get boring. I like the Dota 2 map much more, because there are several elements which give it a realistic look like the way the map is in no way symmetrical and even the Radiant and Dire sides are completely different! LoL has a generic map which looks symmetrical and lacks the kind of detail that’s put into Dota 2 maps.

It will not come as a big surprise to you that I find the gameplay of Dota to be better than LoL. The map, the characters, their movement and even the way Gold shuffles hands! LoL has some interesting features like spells which give bonus abilities with large cool downs like healing and agility. Although after playing Dota, I didn’t see the need for such spells I won’t deny that they saved me more than once ūüėÄ

LoL has an easier learning curve and Gold is also easier to procure. No gold is lost upon death, but the opponent gains some if we die. In any case, the items that you can buy are in a way cheaper than Dota items and there are 7 slots instead of 6 in LoL unlike Dota which has the latter amount. If you really like stories, you will enjoy the lore behind every champion on their websites and in-game, even every skin has artwork made for it. Just imagine how much artwork is made for LoL, there are around 130 champions and each one has at least 4-5 skins. Some things about that game are really incredible. No wonder LoL has far more players per month that does Dota 2!

One of the best things about the Dotaverse is the Arcade. The Arcade opens up a whole new level of games, like a 10v10 where 10 players on each side battle for the other’s ancient and overthrow. Many of the games are made by the official Dota 2 team, and they have released a development workshop for those who are interested in developing games for that section.

Dota 2 gives full access to all heroes from the beginning to a new user, but LoL relies on the user levelling up and earing influence points (IP) by playing more games¬†or buying riot points (RP) to purchase champions and skins. Every week 10 new champions are introduced to players for free. It strikes me as odd that some champions are more expensive than the rest (does that mean they are also better?). Dota is said to be a balanced game, a fact that don’t think is absolutely true. But then again, it really depends on how your teammates play.

My take on the two games is that, Dota 2 is the better one. It might have just one map, and the size may be massive, but still the experience and fun I had playing the game clearly exceeded my expectations of MOBA.

Discovering Dota 2

Dota 2 is surely a sensation among gamers with its fairly new mode of gameplay, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and the fantastic analysis that has been put in to make this game. Dota originally was a mod based on Warcraft III, until Valve hired the lead developer of Dota and and began working on its own version of the popular battle arena in 2009. It was only in 2011 that they released Dota 2 in beta phase for testing. In 2013, a stable release of Dota 2 was released. Dota is gaining momentum from online communities because of the large money sums offered at tourneys, and also from casual players who want to give it a shot because all of their friends are crazy about it.

An easily addictive game, with people complaining about its steep learning curve which I will not argue about. But the true essence of magic lies in the balance of the gameplay. The way in which the engineers at Valve have allocated abilities and attacks to the 111 different heroes trying to try and make them even. It is incredible how they did this. As a matter of fact, only 5 out of 111 heroes were not played or banned in TI5. This figure justifies the careful fine tuning done to ensure balance of different heroes despite there being a variety of parameters both material and strategic.

If the balance does not stun you much, surely the sheer number of characters that you can play with has by now! The quality of graphics is admirable. It is amazing how they have paid attention to every little detail of this game, like the online match-making. Not online dating! ūüėÄ You won’t have time to think of that anymore. You can form a party and the servers look for a game for your party. That way, you are able to play alongside your friends with other online players.

There are games like LoL that came before Dota 2 and effectively stole the audience that this game deserves. By all means, Dota means serious business unlike the cartoonish looks LoL characters have. Dota relies heavily on teamwork and is a good way of teaching a non-teamplayer. So, no matter how good a player is on their own, if their team is bad, they are done for. Communication, is also key and Dota has provided necessary provisions to do so (thought no one uses the mic).

The intricacies don’t stop there. There are about a 100 items which give additional abilities, or enhance them. The downside of the game being that its learning curve is steep. Nobody cares as far as I am concerned. Once you start playing, you become addicted. Lol.

The game of Forks and Spoons with Shokugeki no Souma

Shokugeki noSouma was another popular anime of 2015, and it justified its popularity by giving a great viewer experience in those 24 episodes filled with foodgasms, and exaggeration beyond safe levels. But it was an entertaining show that I thought would finish by the end of 2 cours but apparently dragged on with its own pacing.

The pacing was quite perfect for a slow show like SnS where there was a lot of stress on the drama and focus on the food itself. Though they did not delve into the fine makings of recipes, I hope people well versed with culinary knowledge will be able to pick up bits of cooking wisdom that it offered.

Like most anime there was love rivalry of some sort, and although the romance is bleak, it is certain that there will be a romance plot in the near future. The story played out well with the characters, and the character developments were done decently as well with generous attention given to the hero of this anime: Food.

It may be hard to believe that even after 24 episodes, the anime progressed only so much. It has a gradual feel to it with small arcs branching out from the storyline and merging back in without much disruption to the original story. The character development is satisfying yet sluggish, where the characters that need development are properly developed, yet I felt the need for additional information of all of the characters. That can be attributed to the writers wit, without doubt.

The so called antagonist Nakiri Erina is a tsundere at first glance but reveals her soft side as the anime progresses, typical of tsunderes. She is one of the major characters who require development. The arcs are so entwined so gracefully that you will feel like they are part of the main story. Even though the story hasn’t progressed much, they managed to deliver a successful 2 cour show without getting me bored.

The gems of this show are his mates in his Polar dormitory. That’s where the family type feeling reels up on this show. The kernels of love and much of the time in episodes goes in that. I would look forward to the next season of SnS,¬†confident that I won’t be disappointed.