Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Part 5)

thumbnail_c299d47c-f538-4f70-88a4-3114eb1a231eBefore I start this review, I’d like to say Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the best anime I’ve watched in a long time and has won a well-deserved spot in my top 3 anime series. It’s so great in fact that I was rather heartbroken after finishing the entire anime and left wondering what to do with myself. Now that I can’t unwind to some alchemy and homunculi getting their butts whipped. But sure, it’s not all bad. This gives me the perfect opportunity to find another great anime to get my teeth sunk into. So, without moping over anime heartbreak any further, I bring to you the last in this series of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood reviews.

Providing a spoiler free description of part 5, is kind of hard to do. So, all I will say is a lot of arse kicking and deaths occurred in part 5 and a few awesome Armstrong moments. As for the ending, you’ll be happy to hear it was very satisfying, unlike a lot of anime that are ruined by very poor no-questions-answered and everything-in-the-air endings. Though, the ending is a little sad (Glob Envy nearly broke me) it still leaves you with a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside.

7557043a-3782-4dc6-b0bc-3b0efe467880The best thing about part 5 and the whole anime in fact, is how the plot unravels, twists and turns right in front of the viewer’s eyes. It’s extremely hard to be bored while watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. It completely captures your attention, while having you on the edge of your seat, screaming for more and dying to find out how everything will end. For me at least the plot wasn’t that predictable. Although I could predict somethings (final correct prediction count-24 out of 46 predictions), there was a lot that took me totally by surprise and when making prediction it was very hard to pinpoint exactly what was going to happen. Making this anime a truly exciting watch.

Second to the plot, the characters are Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood next greatest aspect. Despite it incredibly large cast, most characters are very well put together. Some have very unique personalities and/or design, that makes them stand out from the others. Some also have little quirks that make them very entertaining and others are just so relatable, that you couldn’t help but get emotionally invested in their story. At times, your heart will break for certain characters, at other times you’ll find yourself cheering them on and on the other side of this, you’ll also find yourself wishing for a horrific death to be brought upon particular characters (*cough *cough Kimblee).

94c85aad-a778-45c9-95c8-f411abb1694e2

Glob, I hope this isn’t too dark to have in this review.

Even the villains, you can kind of feel sorry for and relate to, at points in the show. Though, they are still monsters, they have very understandable motives for their actions. Some just wanted to please their father and are like lost little children and others just wanted to fill a void in their heart and feel whole. Things most people can at least sympathise with. The point I’m trying to make here is, that on top of its great storyline Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood characters make the anime a real emotional roller-coaster to watch.

In addition to an exciting plot and excellent characters Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has a lot of little tiny things that bring the anime to whole other level of enjoyment. These include its very cute chemistry references, clueless and hothead Ed moments, a great soundtrack, dramatic Armstrong moments and fun little animations that provides comic relief. The voice acting is also something that rises this anime to other level. However as good voice acting is something that is expected from an anime as popular as this one, I won’t lengthen this post any further by going into great detail. All I will say is, that it really sucks you in and can cause you to be captured in the moment, quite often in the anime.

thumbnail_9f4c51f9-efd8-4735-b47a-af1847c01e07Like all well balanced reviews, we’ve come to the negatives of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. To be honest, I really had to put on the surgical gloves, get out the nit-comb and start some thorough nit-picking, to come up with some negatives for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. One these being, that in the English dub version Al is very obviously voiced by a woman. Considering he spends most his time as a suit of armour in the anime, this could become annoying or confusing for some viewers. Personally, I had no problem with this and thought his voice was very sweet and made him very loveable. However, some viewers might not feel the same, it really depends on personal taste.

While we’re in the business of nit-picking, I suppose you could class Colonel Roy Mustang as a negative. He’s a bit of an annoying, arrogant character. Although you can admire his daringness and awesome fire alchemy, for the most part his character is a bit too full of himself and a tad self-centred. He didn’t seem to give much thought to what would happen to his men, if he got caught snooping and seemed shocked when they were punished for his actions. In true blunt Irish fashion, one could say his head was a little too far up his own backside, making him a rather dislikeable fellow.

thumbnail_db98f359-0b8e-42d3-9b70-aedd05239dd1But wait we’re not finished yet, there is still more nits we can pick in this anime. A little juicy one being, we don’t see enough of that cute little panda Shao May. Shao May just suddenly fades into the background and we don’t see anymore of their adorable panda Kung Fu (hmm… wonder if Shao May is related to Po the Dragon Warrior) or hilarious, yet mildly evil panda logic. Considering how intense this anime gets at times, some Shao May cuteness could have been put to good use and eased the heaviness.

Speaking of heaviness, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood can be really sad, at times and hit you right in the heart. Especially, part 1 of this anime and when it comes to characters background stories or their deaths. It can be incredibly heart wrenching to watch and may be enough to make the more sensitive of us cry. However, this anime uses comedy very well to keep the show becoming extremely depressing and never really leaves you feeling gloomy for long.

thumbnail_62c6e2ab-bec7-49ac-82be-80e6092065c4A few other things you could argue as negatives, is the length of the anime and gross giant Envy’s animation. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is 64 episodes long, so is a huge commitment to watch from start to finish. I finished this anime wanting more, so in my opinion its worth it. As for Envy’s animation, it is kind of poor when he mutates into giant gross monster Envy and his movements look very unnatural. However, considering how long ago this show was made (2009-2010) you can somewhat forgive this. Also, you never really find out what that thing made from performing Human Transmutation actually is (or maybe we do and I’ve forgotten, because the show is that long. Let me know in the comments, if you know what that creature was. Not knowing is kind of bugging me).

2a626d16-7892-456b-9328-eb198776a377Overall, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an absolutely unbelievably great anime. It has all the features that make an anime incredible and then some. It’s the kind of show that will remind you why you love anime in the first place and why you got into it. Great storytelling mixed with amazing characters, really cool action scenes, shock and tragedy, topped with a sprinkle of comedy to prevent things getting too much, makes for one hell of a show. Unless you really nit-pick (like I did. Apologies for that, I really went to town on this anime), there isn’t much you can fault the anime for. So, for those reasons if you haven’t seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood yet, I would highly recommend placing it on top of your to watch list. Although, it is on the long side it’s completely worth it and you’ll most likely love every minute of it.

Rating: 5+/5 (It’s just that good)

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Yeah, I wasn’t going to end this review series without Chibi Armstrong.

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Collab Opportunity

thumbnail_b761ea5d-9b43-4330-b7a0-f82f053b4bd8If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you may know about the comic strip collaboration (Finding my own way) I’m currently doing with Anjani over at My Utopia. You may also have noticed that Anjani is working hard to turn the comic strip into an audio comic for her YouTube.

Well, I’m here today to offer you the chance to join Anjani and I in voicing the characters of Finding my own way. At this minute, we’re looking for people to voice Momo and Reiko, however there are still a few other characters that will need voiced a little later in the comic.IMG_20180618_185644_448.jpgIMG_20180618_185647_206.jpg

We are also seeking help with editing videos, so if you’d like to Collab with us but don’t fancy doing voiceovers, there is also that.

If you’re interested in joining this audio comic Collab, you can either contact Anjani over at My Utopia by clicking here or tell me in the comments below or find me on Instagram. It’s a lot of fun and we’d love to have you.

As always, thanks for reading.

Quite Possibly the Darkest Thing I’ve Ever Drawn

thumbnail_94c85aad-a778-45c9-95c8-f411abb1694eHave you ever had an idea, that at the time seemed great but later realise it wasn’t so great and might actually have been quite a bad idea? It’s safe to say we all have at least once in our lives. So, let me introduce you to my bad and rather morbid idea, Ninander (Glob, naming it really doesn’t help).

So, what possessed me to draw just a dark thing, you ask? Well, I was having trouble coming up with something to draw for the last Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood review and decided to draw the first thing that comes to mind, when I think of FMA: Brotherhood. Sadly, this was the little girl, Nina and her dog being blended together by her disturbed father, to make a human animal hybrid. At the time, this seemed like a great idea but after drawing it, I realised it might be a little too dark to include in the review (or even add colour to). It took a lot of time and effort to draw and I’m kind of proud of it, so I’m sharing it now in a separate post in case it isn’t used in the last review.

Although it isn’t coloured, I hope you’ve enjoyed one of my darker drawings
and as always, Thanks for reading.

Finding my own way (Chapter 2) audio comic

Anjani turned the second chapter of “Finding my own way” into an audio comic. This time I joint Anjani in the voice-over and voiced the teacher and Yukina (I was so shy, when recording my voice). Hope you all enjoy.

My Utopia

This is in collaboration with thethingsiveseen ( Kelly)

So here is the second audio comic of finding my own way.

It was really embarrassing for recording the audio and I really tried by best and this time even Kelly also joined me for giving her voice.

Voiceovers:

For Akira: Anjani

For Yukina: Kelly

I hope you enjoy this second chapter.

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A Fish Named Finny (Part 2-Let’s Make Finny Look Fabulous)

20180721_201231At last, the second half of the requested simpler step by step post. I’ve had to give some serious thought, to how I was going to add colour to Finny. Between wanting to keep things simples and not overload peoples’ brains with information and fatigue (I fell asleep 3 times at my desk last week, it was embarrassing), it wasn’t easy. But I think I’ve found a solution that’s a good balance between keeping things simple and ending up with a beautiful fish. That solution being, colouring pencils.

Considering how easy it is to get your hands on a good set of colouring pencils and that they’re something most people will be familiar with and have used before, I figured they were the best way to do this post. Also compared to paint, they’re far less messy (just getting that out there, as an added bonus).

So, with that all explained let’s begin:

Step 1: Choose your colours and test your pencils

Sounds weird but it’ll save you a lot of bother later. The aim is to know what the colours look like on paper, before using them to your drawing. Personally, I like to cross the colours (as seen above) to see how they blend with each other.

Step 2: The hard part-The Scales
So not to overwhelm people, I’ve decided to demonstrate a more decorative, simple way of adding colour to the scales. Instead of a more realistic looking way, because that would most likely put a lot people off giving this little project a go themselves.

For the scales, we use a blend of 2-3 colours, which gives the scales a nice wee decorative look at the end.

thumbnail_20180724_160331First lay down one colour quite generously at the top of one scale.

thumbnail_20180724_160530Then lightly use another colour on the rest of the scale.

thumbnail_20180724_160826Go over the whole scale again with the first colour and second colour if necessary….

and hopefully you’ll end up with scales that looks something like this.

thumbnail_20180724_190318Tip: Going over scales with a white pencil can lighten areas and helps blend colours better.

Step 3: The Fins

thumbnail_20180804_150718(0)For this you pretty much use the same method as the scales, except you start at the base of the fin, you try to keep the colours light and use darker colours for the linework on the fin.
Tip: Using the white pencil is great for keeping the colour light. Also using more than one colour, for the linework will give a better effect.

Step 4: The Head

thumbnail_20180804_152955This is probably the easiest part. The aim is to give the bottom of the head a slight shadow by colouring it a little darker, than the rest of the head. This will make it look less 2D.

fin3Then concentrate on the little details on the head.

Step 5- Finishing Touches

complete 2Touch up the linework and sign your work.

If you’ve made it this far in this step by step, hopefully you now have a beautiful fish (if not, don’t worry. It’s probably down to me awful description skills and not your art skills).

Thanks for reading and hopefully this step by step post has inspired you to create a Finny of your very own.

The Problem with Finishing A Really Good Show.

pick 3Sadly, this week I was a sick wee pup with a thumping headache and a stomach bug. Even just moving my arms made my head unbearably painful, so drawing has been out of the question this week (hence the use of images in this post and no art work). This means I couldn’t create my usual posts this week or add colour to poor Finny.

Though my stomach still isn’t great, I’m feeling a little better and that Glob awful headache has gone. So, I thought instead of posting nothing this week, I’d take this opportunity to get all of you guys opinion on something.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you likely know about the series of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood reviews I was doing. Well, I’ve finished the series (expect the last review very soon) and have a bit of a problem now. The show was so good, that I don’t think I’ll be able to find another show as good as it to review next. So, here’s where all of your opinions come in to play. Since all of you will be reading the review, thought it’d be nice to share my anime to watch list and let you guys pick, which anime you’d like me to review next.

My Anime to Watch List:

One Punch man- A guy spent over an hour telling me about this anime and I have to say, it sounds hilarious. A superhero that wins his fights in only one blow! That definitely sounds like it would be worth a watch, if only for fun.

pick 1Fruits Basket- I know shocking, isn’t it? A little secret about me is that I have a really girly side, I mostly keep hidden and occasionally I like to indulge in girly stuff. Every so often, I get a little craving for watching something extremely girly and as a lot of people sing this anime’s praises, it might be worth checking out.

Erased- An anime with a huge mystery, where the main character is sent back in time to save his classmate from a murderer. It’s a favourite of a blogger I follow. He has very good taste and makes it sound like an incredibly exciting watch.

Serial Experiments Lain- This looks creepy as fudge and what I gather is, it’s about a girl who gains the ability to mess with reality, leading to some very twisted stuff happening. If it’s as creepy as it seems, it’ll make for an unbelievable watch.

School-Live!- I remember reading a lot of reviews on this anime and it sounded like a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, but at the same time kind of mind twisting.

Code Geass- An anime about a genius trying to change the world to his liking. Code Geass is compared a lot to Death Note and if it’s anyway as good as Death Note, it’ll be amazing to watch and review.

pick 5Death Parade- A Bartender holds games between recently dead people, to decide what happens their soul! Sounds crazy as hell, but in an interesting, “I want to learn more” sort of way and seems like quite the experience to watch.

Yuri on Ice- A sports anime about young men figure skating (am I the only one or does Blades of glory, comes to mind?). An anime, people keep telling me I should watch and about how beautiful Victor is. Truth be told, I’ve gotten rather curious about exactly how beautiful this Victor fella is.

Violet Evergarden- A young lady tries to rebuild her life after experiencing the rage of war. Sounds like quite the emotional watch. It was recommended to me by 2 other bloggers, so must be worth checking out.

My Hero Academia- A superhero anime about a boy gaining superpowers and going to hero school. It seems like an amazing hero anime and like something that would be really enjoyable. (Also, that green hair looks so awesome).

So, this is currently what’s on my “to watch list”, if you’d like to voice your opinion on these shows or recommend something else, please do in the comments below. It would be very much appreciated.

pick 4

Thanks for reading and hoping to be back to near full health soon.

A Fish Named Finny (Part 1)

Raise your hand if you think fish are kind of beautiful in their own shiny scaly way. If your hand is raised, you have awesome taste and have just found yourself a fellow fish enthusiast (Okay, you can put your hand down now). There’s just something about fish swimming around, glistening and shimmering as the sunlight hits their scales, that is rather beautiful. They’re like sparkly moving leaf creatures, that live in water and in a way, are hypnotic when watched (not to mention they taste really good, too). But enough about my weird fish fascination and back to this post.

A while ago, I got a request asking me to do a more basic to step by step art post, showing each stage of my sketch. I’m happy to oblige, so let’s do this and create the best darn step by step of a fish WordPress has ever seen (Okay, that might be a little too enthusiastic). To keep this post to a reasonable size, I’ll split it into two parts (the first one drawing the fish and the second adding colour).  So, let’s begin!

Step 1: Lightly draw your basic shapes

20180720_221347In this case, a weird banana shape, with triangle shapes for the fins and a long skinny one for the tail. A weird squidgy circle shape for the head and a curving line starting from the head, down the back and towards the tail.
Tip: Hold the pencil further from the lead and keep your hand and wrist relaxed. You’ll achieve better curved lines that way.

Step 2: Make the lines you want to keep darker and draw in some details.

20180721_181646Give your fishy some lips, a nice moustache, some gills and use wavy lines when drawing the fins.  

Step 3: Go mad with the details

20180721_183923You pretty much have free rein on this. You can add as much or as little detail as you want. However, a few tips I would give you are, draw in the fish’s eyelids and pupil and add a few lines on the fins and tail to get that webbed look.

Step 4: Make your fish look Chargrilled

20180721_190448Yeah, draw some criss-cross lines on the fish’s body. Make its skin look nice and crispy.
Tip: Curve the lines with the bend in the body.

Step 5: Do the line work, while feeling immensely stressed and try not to cry if to mess up. 

20180721_201231Use a darker pencil to go over the outline of the fish and some of the details on the head.
On one side of each diamond shape, created on the body in the last step, draw a little curved shape to get a scaled appearance.

Step 6: Name your fish
Everything needs a name, so why not. I named mine Finny.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this more detailed art post. Thanks for reading and of course, feel free to use this post to draw a fish yourself.

In part two I will do a step by step on adding colour to your fish. I think I might make Finny yella (yellow) or orange.

Valley of White Birds

44e9925a-3968-44d2-8400-8afa01465f0cTime to get back to my roots and get stuck into a review. Truth be told, I haven’t done a review in quite a while (well, other than Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, but it’s awesome and incredibly easy to talk about). Like what happens to many bloggers from time to time, I kind of burnt out review wise and started focusing more on my art work. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, I feel like I’ve made some progress in bettering my art skills. Anyway, back to the task at hand, I thought I’d ease myself back into the swing of things, by reviewing a very beautiful short film called Valley of White Birds, from Wolf Smoke Studio.

Being just over 15mins long, Valley of White Birds begins with a young man walking through a forest alongside a stream. He is then joint by an old man and they both walk together along the forest path, as white paper-like birds fly around them. They soon reach a village, where suddenly the young man takes an awful disliking to the white paper birds and goes on a mad paper bird killing spree, turning a large number of the birds into Autumn coloured leaves. These actions must displease the forest spirits, because soon after the boss white bird shows up and appears to taunt the young man. The young man attempts to stealthily attack the boss bird but is distracted, by what was most likely a vision of his younger self. The vision quickly vanishes and the young man chases after the boss bird, whilst using his magic bean-shaped pebbles to tries to kill it. The boss bird leads the young man to a shrine, where the young man engages in a boss battle.

As you may have guessed from that description, this short film has no dialogue. In my opinion this doesn’t take away from the film and to be honest, the young man was fighting with a bird. Having him scream things at the bird, would have just been weird and destroyed the peaceful and intriguing feel the film creates. Story wise this film is pretty easy to follow and the creators have done an excellent job of leading you through the tale, with visuals alone.

125fe3f1-8ce1-4182-80cd-518c6f024bb5In saying that however, trying to understand this film on a deeper level (what it means and is about) is another story. I can only guess that it might be based on an old folk tale or book or that the whole thing reflects the young man’s fear of getting old (based on black birds covering the boy, turning him into the old man, then turning him back to a boy when the shrine was destroyed) or his loss of innocence (base on the boy innocently following the boss bird and seemly worshiping it. Then things turning sour, when the boy gets to the shrine. Also, the young man seems more angered and untrusting of the boss bird, than the boy. As if he’s more aware of the boss bird’s intentions). It could also be a play on the stages of life (the bird representing life and each version of the young man representing the common mind sets at each stage in life) or a play on the balance between yin and yang (black and white were used a lot and very symbolically). It’s very hard to pin down exactly what this film is about and these are only examples of conclusions I could come to while watching Valley of White Birds.

One very notable aspect of Valley of White Birds, is how beautiful and visually stimulating it is. The backgrounds are just stunning, you can tell a lot of time and love went into making this film. Without getting all artsy, I’m aware of the techniques you’d need to use, to achieve the backgrounds on actual paper. But the fact this film was probably done digitally, has me completely flabbergasted and makes me love it even more. The amount of work it must have taken to achieve that look, would have been crazy. You can really tell the creators were giving it their all while making this film. Even just on face value the animation and backgrounds, completely suck you in and sets the tone very well. The colour palette and use of shape, is incredibly pleasing to the eye and bring the film to a whole other level. It’s just one hell of a beautiful short film.

Overall, Valley of White Birds may be a little difficult to work out but is definitely worth watching, if only for its beauty alone. It an incredibly cute and stunning film, that will draw you and capture your attention, for the full 15mins. I would highly recommend checking Valley of White Birds out for yourself and seeing what you can conclude from this film.

Rating: 4/5

If you’re interested in watching Valley of White Birds, I’ve left a link to the film here
and a link to Wolf Smoke Studio’s YouTube channel here.