Platinum End – Review

Platinum End is a manga from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. If these names ring a bell to you, it may be because you have seen them before. Indeed, they were the ones to bring us the internationally acclaimed Death Note series, more than a decade ago. (Time goes fast…).

The manga starts with the story of Mirai, a high school student whose parents died in a car crash. He has been left with his abusive aunt and uncle and, unable to face his tragic destiny, Mirai makes the choice to commit suicide. However, before the fatal impact that would have ended his life, he is rescued by an angel called Nasse. The angel later on reveals the truth about Mirai’s past and explains to him that he has been selected, along with 13 other candidates, to become the new God. In other terms, God has organised a contest to select his successor, in which all contestants are allowed to fight and kill each other, no matter the scheme they use, in order to be the last survivor and, therefore, become the new god.

From this brief summary, it is clear that the themes of the series are similar to the one used in Death Note, and this is precisely the problem. The story of Platinum End is very original, and has the potential to surprise us with amazing and unexpected plot twists but, because the story, in many aspects, remind us of Death Note, we unconsciously spend our time making comparisons between the two series. It is even the case with the drawing style: Mirai has the traits and the haircut of a younger Light Yagami… and this is confusing. Comparisons aside, though, the drawings are very detailed and are a pleasure for the eye

Another weakness of the manga is the characters. The main character is naive honest and inherently good, which makes him sort of appealing but also, let’s be honest, a bit boring. Yet, the major fault of Platinum End is the character of Nessa. She is meant to be cute, adorable, and is used as a sort of comic relief, which contrasts with the terribly serious stakes of the main storyline. For this reason, she simply becomes relatively annoying, and, in some instances, it almost gives the impression she has been borrowed from a romance shojo and is in the wrong book.

Platinum End is neither a cheerful surprise, not a disappointment. It is an easy read, with great ideas, and the story leaves enough room for character development. Unfortunately, it was not the sort of manga that urged me to rush and buy all the published volumes and, consequently, I do not know the rest of the story, but I suppose it will be full of discoveries if the main ideas are well exploited.

To fully appreciate Platinum End, it is probably better not to have read Death Note before. In this way, readers will be able to judge the artwork without drawing any comparisons or looking for similarities. Besides, I would also advise this series to maga novices, as the topics it deals with are rather international and could be transposed to any country and any culture.

Average mark: 3/5

Character Analysis #1 – Sakura Haruno

There is no need to present the world famous manga Naruto, whose main series ended in November 2014 with its 72nd volume. We will not, in this article, present the context of the story, as it is not the main argument here. Indeed, this article is a character analysis and, to fully appreciate it, it is recommended to be familiar with the context of the manga/ anime.

Naruto includes a large number of characters- to the point that it sometimes becomes confusing, but, among the three main heroes, it cannot be denied that Sakura -who could be seen as the main female protagonist, is often at the top of “Most-Hated Characters” lists. Memes about her uselessness are countless on the internet and, let’s admit it, they are often hilarious. Yet, let us analyse the character of Sakura and point out what is likeable about her.

The evolution of the character

It is true that, at the beginning of the story, Sakura is an annoying and upsetting fan-girl. She follows Sasuke around, she sort of throws tantrums and does not hesitate to have a go at Naruto, and all this behind his back. For all these reasons, in the early series, she is utterly despicable. She appears to be weak, frail, and unable to fight. Still, all these reasons make her character interesting later on. Indeed, the character of Sakura shows the development of a childish and careless girl, turning into a strong and mature woman. The key scene that initiate the change is when she recklessly cuts her hair in the Forest of Death. Don’t dare telling me this is not badass!

Besides, from a cultural point of view, women with short hair are seen as leaders and fighters – this is for instance why Miyazaki’s heroines wear short hair, for the most part. Training along with Tsunade, she demonstrates her skills in battles and ceases to be a powerless creature that needs to be defended. As the story unfolds, this is pleasant to follow, and we expect her to grow stronger and stronger.

The failure of a promising development

Alas, despite all these improvements, the treatment of the character does not allow Sakura to blossom fully. Indeed, during the entire series, she remains in love in a stereotypical and rather teenage manner. While displaying feelings of love is praiseworthy, in this instance, it just renders the character plain and dull again. Indeed, we fail to understand how a mature woman, who has had time to think and reflect, can remain in love with such an annoying character as Sasuke.

Generally speaking, and this is regrettable, the development of the female protagonists from Konoha seems unfinished: we would like to see more of Sakura, Ino or Hinata, but their apparitions are quickly erased by other elements and fights that are more important to the story.

Sakura does not deserve the wrath directed against her in the anime world, but to me, she is an incomplete character, and this is why it makes it hard to identify to her. Starting with her lack of self-confidence in the first volumes, young audience, and more precisely young girls, can identify to her if they have grown up with the manga. Yet, from an adult perspective, her choices are unjustifiable because they are led by a blind and, let’s face it, rather irrational love. While slight changes in the story could have made her an awesome character, she remains a tool to include a female main protagonist-which almost makes it a business decision. Where the character development absolutely collapses and ruins all our hopes is by the end of Naruto Shippuden, when we realise that Sakura, like all other ninja ladies, has become a housewife. The utter disappointment!
I do like Sakura, precisely because I have grown up with her, and identify to her development, but it is unsure whether in the coming years, with all the new series appearing and giving us a new vision of what a strong-willed woman can be, this judgement will still be accurate.

Tips and Reflections On Getting a Tattoo

Tattoos have become more and more popular, and are becoming almost mainstream, notably thanks to the influence of celebrities such as David Beckham or Rihanna. Far from glitters and world famous stars, tattoos also recall ancestral traditions and, according to culture, can have very distinct meanings. We can for example think of the Maori tattoos, telling stories and shedding the light on a cultural identity revival in the recent years. On the contrary, in Japanese society, tattoos are often associated with gangs, criminals, and are still badly regarded. In Europe and America, the story could be seen as a bit of both.

Indeed, although tattoos have become more largely socially accepted, they still can put a brake on your career, depending on your chosen field of work. This is why you should think twice before getting your first tattoo.

Let it sink in your mind

This may sound like an obvious statement, but a tattoo is a life commitment. Surely, systems to remove tattoos do exist, but they are painful and onerous, this is why it is advised that you carefully think about what model and design you want to get. Do not follow trend just because they look cool, but think about something unique, that suits your state of mind and personality. For instance, as an Emo kid in the early 2000s, I am quite happy that my parents never allowed me to get little sparkly stars right behind my ears because nowadays, they would look quite rubbish, frankly!

Take time, ask several professionals to draw designs for you, read reviews on the internet… If you have friends who are into art, and whose skills you trust, you can also ask them to create a very original and unique model  just for you. Some tattoos may be to avoid, for instance getting a name tattooed on your wrist or in a very visible place, because you may regret this decision later on in life. However, the choice is  all yours, in the end!

Consider health and safety, consider your future or current career.

If, like me, you live in Britain, you probably know that everybody in this country is obsessed with health and safety! When talking about tattoos, it is more important than ever, though! (Okay, this might be a slight exaggeration…). Nonetheless, make sure to compare tattoo parlours and visit them. That will allow you to check the professionalism of the staff, and you will also be able to investigate whether the place is clean, neat and welcoming. Nobody wants to get tattooed in a shabby place! It is a lovely, but stressful moment, and this is why you must make sure this is the right place for you. The first contact with the tattooist is also one of the most important steps in the process: if you feel they are too carefree or run their shop like a factory, or that there style of drawing do not correspond to your expectations, then it is better to sail off to another shore.

Remember: your are the customer, you are the king or queen! Do not hesitate to express your demands clearly, after all, it is your tattoo and your lifetime commitment! (as long as you remain polite about it, it should be fine!).

Investigate and analyse prices: some shops may offer bargains. Although this might be tempting, the tattoos done in these parlours may not always be of the best quality. Away from generalisation, the saying “You pay for what you get”, has never been as true as in the world of tattooing.

Consider what part of your body you want to get tattooed. There might be risks of infections, because of the needles. Some people may also contract allergies to the ink. In the UK, regulations are extremely strict and all material is sterilised,therefore, this is extremely rare, but if you have had several allergic reactions in the past, you may want to consult with your GP beforehand.

This sounds a lot like your mum doing a compulsory medical check-up before you go on a school trip, but to make the experience the most enjoyable as possible, these are easy precautions that have to be taken.

As we stated before, in some professions, such as being a lawyer, a teacher or a banker (and many others!), your employer may request that all tattoos are covered. In this instance, you may want to get tattooed in a spot that is easier to hide, such as your back, and avoid anything above the shoulders, as this would be too visible. If you work in a more creative domain, you may have more options, then! Hopefully, in the coming years, the democratisation on tattoos will lead to more open-mindedness and we will see teachers with tattoo sleeves everywhere!

Bear in mind that some spots may be more painful than others too. For instance, because it is near bones, a side rib tattoo is likely to be extremely painful. This varies from individuals, and only your own judgement can tell what level of pain is acceptable or not.

Enjoy!

Your first tattoo session will undoubtedly be a memory to cherish so, get at ease and enjoy it! Do not hesitate to share with your artist why you are getting this tattoo, what it represents for you…this will help them to do a great job!
A tattoo, just as your fashion style, is a way to express your personality. So, whether it is political, whether it is a tribute to someone or whether it is an act of self-affirmation, be proud of your tattoo(s), it is yours, it is your choice and it is unique! Surely, your great grandma may be close to a heart attack when she first sees it (mine almost passed out when she discovered it…), but after all, it is your opinion,and your opinion solely that matters! Love your tattoo, love your self-expression!

My Hero Academia – Season 1, Review (No spoilers)

Last weekend, the launching of the second season of popular series My Hero Academia caused an excited and cheerful uproar from the anime fans community. To understand this phenomenon , let us go back and reflect on the first season.

My Hero Academia or Boku no Hero Academia is an animation series based on the same name manga from Kohei Horikoshi. At first, the story presents itself as the usual, and rather stereotypical teenager Shonen scenario. Set in a fantasy world resembling modern Japan where almost all humans are born with super-hero abilities, we follow the story of Izuku (“Deku”), who is mocked by his classmates because he was born without any particular ability.

Problem: Deku’s dream is to become a hero, as his idol All Might, but without a quirk – as such is the name magic powers have been given in the world of My Hero Academia, it seems rather naive and impossible. However, thanks to an unexpected encounter, Deku will manage to overcome difficulties and take the necessary steps that will lead him on the path of becoming a great hero.

From this short summary, it may appear that the anime offers to follow the life of our same usual loser, just as in any comics. Yet, this is where  My Hero Academia is a pleasant surprise: all characters have been though in depths and, although they may appear cliche at first, there is enough room left for their development. It is not only about successes and failures, but urges us to do our best, as we immediately identify with the main character because we are touched by his sincerity.

The series often resorts to self depreciation and, while some characters could be treated in an archetypal manner, such as the icon of the rival, found in the character of Kacchan, this is done in a very clever way and makes us want to explore further the relationships between the characters. Moreover, the series also features epic fight scenes, cliffhangers and a lively soundtrack that will help you to get up in the morning!

As the first season is composed of 13 episodes only, we leave a bit hungry for more by the end of it. If negative comments had to be directed towards My Hero Academia, it could be highlighted that female protagonists do not play a key part in this part of the series, which is a shame. This could be to come in further episodes, though.

If you’re a Shonen fan and got nostalgic of the old Naruto or Bleach episodes, My Hero Academia could be an efficient remedy to your nostalgia. My Hero Academia is a modern initiatory trip, offering a large and interesting range of characters, and we look forward to watching the next episode as soon as the first season ends, simply out of fascination and curiosity.

Sources:

http://bokunoheroacademia.wikia.com/wiki/Boku_no_Hero_Academia_Wiki

Image Credits: @Mikurun, Deviantart

 

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