Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

We’re back in another episode of Supreme Verdict wherein I share my general impression and thoughts about an anime that I just finished watching. There has been a couple of anime titles that has recently ended and a few more that will end in the weeks to come so I am taking this opportunity to discuss some of the titles that I’ve watched upon their conclusion.

Warning: This article contains spoilers so read at your own leisure!

One such anime that I’ve been following would be Tokyo Ravens. For those who’re not aware of the premise of the anime, it’s basically about a guy named Tsuchimikado, Harutora and his cousin Tsuchimikado, Natsume, childhood friends who both enrolled in an Omnyo Prep School located in Tokyo. After a spiritual disaster that took place in their hometown, Harutora decided to become Natsume’s spirit familiar who swore to protect her as long as he lives.

As the course of the story goes, the main protagonist along with their newfound friends eventually encounter the Twin Horn Syndicate who’s bent on kidnapping Natsume for they believe that she is the reincarnation of Tsuchimikado Yakou, the so-called King of the North Star and the most powerful Omnyo exorcist to have ever lived and who they believe would lead them to a new era.

Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

“I said “King” NOT “Fist”!”

Now that we’ve established the setting of the story, let’s go down to business. I am actually disappointed at the last episode of Tokyo Ravens.

Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

VSAT = Viewer Satisfaction Chart

The thing is that the episode seems rushed in a sense that Natsume’s resurrection wasn’t even dramatic as well as the events that soon followed. I do find the part where Ohtomo Jin asked Ashiya Doman to be his familiar very interesting. The battles were not that climactic in a sense that there wasn’t even a scene where the awakened Yakou showed what he can do even if it was momentarily.

Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

I understand that Reiji and his familiar Shaver had to retreat being aware that they cannot defeat Harutora in his current state the same with Takiko Souma keeping her familiar Yashamaru/Shido Dairenji from clashing with Hishamaru, Yakou’s familiar. But damn, the episode would’ve been better if there was a part where Yakou displays his true power against the antagonists. Sadly, there was none.

Truth is that I’ve always been a fan of anime series wherein the beaten up protagonist would awaken into a different and powerful character that’d really kick the ass of their antagonist easily. Similar to what happened here:

 

This will always be one of the most epic fight scenes that I’ve seen in anime history. Yes, Tokyo Ravens is not a battle anime like Dragonball, YuYu Hakusho and or One Piece but having such a scene would make it more memorable.

Also, the anime ended leaving me with a lot of questions like how did the Taizan Fukun ritual actually go that Harutora/Yakou had to leave Natsume? In addition, why leave Natsume alone in the middle of nowhere, and alone for that matter? And without even letting anyone know where she is staying? Did they just have a “hi-ma’am-bam-thank-you-ma’am!” scene over there?

Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

Unfortunately, these are just a few of the questions that we’ll never be able to answer unless of course you start reading the manga or light novel which I am sure is one of the primary reasons why the last episode ended like that. At the end of the day, producing anime is a marketing strategy to sell the manga or the light novels after all.

Anime industry be like “Want more answers? Then give us yer monneeehhh” Yeah, painful truth indeed. However, I had to admit that the part where Kon undid the seals to revert back to her original form was cool, the same as when Kakugyouki arrived to assist her in a timely manner.

Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

“Kon’s true and final form”

My satisfaction overall for the series tends to fluctuate depending on what’s the arc or chapter’s focus but it didn’t dip in any way with the last episode being the only exception. I’d still recommend the series to those who are looking for anime of the supernatural genre with a bit of romance schtick involved. And if there’s something that the anime has it going in it, it’s the plot twist that I must say is really something I found remarkably surprising.

Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

“LRT Taft Station. Yep, they’re now in the Philippines”

I still enjoyed the whole series but the ending was just a let-down. Then again, if a second season pops up then good otherwise, I’d probably end up reading the manga or light novel instead.

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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animevice.com
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Supreme Verdict: Tokyo Ravens

“Did you think that this article would end without having an image of Suzuka Dairenji?”

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

It took me a while before I was able to get around into completely watching the first episode of this anime. I attempted to watch the first episode a month ago or so if I remember correctly but thanks to me being fickle-minded, I was unable to finish the first episode (though the truth was that the internet connection at that time was really slow and I was having trouble getting it completely loaded).

Never the less, I took the opportunity to watch it today since it’s been a while since I last watched a new anime title. In addition, I was trying to get myself back into the habit of writing my first impressions of different anime titles that I watch in otakustreamers. I’ve been mostly preoccupied the last few days that I wasn’t able to find the time or the motivation to write my reviews.

Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda which translates to World Conquest: Strategem Star (trivia: Zvezda is Russian for “Star”, as in the celestial body) was written by Tensai Okamura and Meteor Hoshizora of the Japanese game company TYPE MOON(The same people who brought you Fate Stay/Night and Fate Zero).

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

The premise of the story starts with a second year middle school student Asuta Jimon getting involved with a young girl named Kate Hoshimiya (or sometimes called Lady Venera by her subordinates)who seems to have special powers manifested through her rabbit-like stuff toy.

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

“THAT stuff toy”

What makes it more interesting is the fact that she’s assisted by five unique individuals in her ambition to conquer the world.

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

“Unique Individuals alright”

As of the first and second episode, I am totally not sure if she’s an extra-terrestrial being or what but as far as I know is that Kate, the leader of the group is determined to conquer the world and each of her subordinates have their own special abilities or talents, except for Odin who seems to be another normal human being. I’ve yet to find out as I continue to watch the series.

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

“God and her champion. Seems legit.”

The anime is actually reminiscent of Haruhi Suzumiya in a sense that the premise puts the main protagonist amidst characters that are out of this world. Furthermore, Kate reminds me of Haruhi in a sense that both are young girls who seemed determined to change the world in their own fancy way. Also, both stories seems to be told in the perspective of the protagonist who’s just a normal human being while at the same time being thrown into something they are totally clueless about.

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

“SOS Brigade”

I don’t really have much to say about the artwork but I do like the design of the monsters in the first and second episode and yet to find out why the kurukuru(the cute little spuds in the series who make cute weird sounds with each having their own designated numbers) tend to become one big kaiju. The show also has a running gag about the characters that the main protagonist meets who tend to pronounce his name wrong. I also like the humor presented in the first two episodes.

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

“No, they’re not some kind of skittles”

I also appreciate the greetings that Kate and her subordinates have towards each other and find their arch nemesis’ appearance similar to the costumes of the main protagonists of another anime entitled Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman or Science Ninja Team Gatchaman(also known in the US as G-Force).

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

I am even thinking that the order of the White Light is a reference to the former since its members have birds as their code names. And maybe Zvezda represents Galactor perhaps? =p Another thing I noticed is if the main protagonist’s name is a reference to Mobile Suit Gundam Zeta’s main protagonist Judau Ashta. Honestly, the two names just sound alike.

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

Overall, I find Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda amusing and a good watch especially if you want some light humor as well as an interesting plot. As of right now, it’s still one of those on-going anime and I don’t have any idea yet as to how many episodes will this anime have. However, I won’t be surprised if this anime would only have 12 to 14 episodes. For the meantime….

First Impressions: Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

Thanks for reading,

Raven Knives

@ravenknives at Twitter

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Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

It’s just a couple of days before the most anticipated event takes place this weekend which is Grand Prix Richmond and it’s highly likely that it would be a grand event. With almost 3000 players already registered as of March 4th, Starcitygames.com have decided to put an attendance cap to it of up to 5000 players max to ensure that everyone will be accommodated properly.

This aside, I’ve been monitoring the prices of some note-worthy cards for the past few days and I’d like to take the opportunity to share my findings with you in this article as well as my observations in the modern format.

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

There’s really nothing much to say about the Faerie pieces since no upward movement took place in the last week since Pro Tour Born of the Gods Valencia, especially that no copies of Bitterblossom made it in the top 8. Though, three players made it day two as what I mentioned in my previous article, it’s not enough to get Faerie pieces to spike as compared to the cards used by those who top 8ed the event.

Sadly, majority of the pros believe that Faeries just doesn’t have what it takes to be a dominant deck in the modern format. Also, most MTGO events only have at least one player using Faeries as a deck and nothing more as compared to the other archetypes. Based from this data, it’s very unlikely for the archetype to rebound this coming GP. On the other hand, the past MTGO events seem to be cluttered with Scapeshift, Pod, Twin variants, UR Storm and Robots with the occasional Jund variants.

This means that it would be the best time to sell your bitterblossoms. Unless you’re not going to use the green titan, might as well sell your copies though if Scapeshift decks make it to the top 8 of GP Richmond, not to mention a number of copies of Primeval Titan, it’s very likely that its price will spike big time. Then again, this is already obvious and is basically how things work in the M:tG economy.

Also, I found an interesting Faeries list that did NOT have any copies of the tribal enchantment and it looks sweet. The list seems built to deal with Faeries’ usual weak matchup which would be the aggressive decks.

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of February 5th, 2014

How about Zoo? Well, I didn’t really see much of it. With most decks having Anger of the Gods as tech and a lot of spot removals that efficiently deal with most of the creatures that Zoo decks have, it’s become challenging for the deck to keep up. Not to mention that a lot of the decks are good when it comes to dealing with gorillas, goyfs and lions and then suddenly combo-ing off a few turns later to seal the win.

Modern Price Trends and Observations as of March 5th, 2014

So, did Zoo suddenly become a bad deck choice? Of course not but with the resurgence of URW variants and other combo decks, it just became difficult to consistently kill opponents fast enough especially when their decks are built to kill most of the critters that you will be putting on the board. At the same time, with Jund or other similar decks being underrepresented, combo decks are not threatened by hand disruption unlike before hence they are more likely to pull up what they want to do every game.

As an added note, there’s also no Zoo deck that got in the top 8 in Mindstorm Games hobby shop, a local gaming center. For reference, here are the decks that top 8ed in the recent Tuesday event:

1st Place – Pao L. Robots/Affinity 4-1

2nd Place – Menard Q – Kiki Pod -4-1

3rd Place – Adan M – WU Control -3-1-1

4th Place – Ben C – Monogreen Devotion – 3-1-1

5th Place – Roberto G – RG Tron – 3-2

6th Place – Sunny A – UR Twin – 3-2

7th Place – Peter S – Merfolk 3-2

8th Place – Donovan B – Firemind Control 3-2

If there’s one archetype that I do find consistent though in this local gaming center, it’s the URW/UR decks as well as the pod decks.

Overall, the recent bannings/unbannings cause a series of changes in the modern format which used to be dominated by Jund decks. Combo decks seems to have been suppressed back then but with very few decks playing Thoughtseize and Inquisition as well as Liliana of the Veil, it’s very likely that combo decks will remain to be strong contenders in the modern format. Aggressive decks are still viable deck choices but now that most are utilizing Anger of the Gods, and other efficient mass and spot removals, they’ll probably have a hard time racing their opponents.

I guess that wraps up today’s article. It’s only a matter of time before the modern format shapes up and I’d be watching it closely. How about you? Any insights in how the modern format will shape up in the next few days to come?

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

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Lessons in GPT Beijing – 4th Place – January 26th 2014

I used to write tournament reports but the thing is that it can be difficult to remember what happened in each match not to mention that I don’t get to write my reports at the soonest possible time. So instead, what I will try to do is to just try to write a summary of my recent GPT experience and share what I learned from it. But before anything else, here’s the rundown of my match ups that day.

Swiss Rounds:

2-0 vs BUG Midrange

0-2 vs Mono-Black Devotion

2-0 vs Mono-Blue Devotion

2-0 vs G/R Devotion

0-2 vs Junk Hexproof

Play-Offs:

2-1 vs Mono-White Aggro

0-2 vs Junk Hexproof

Anyway, I ended the tournament at 4th place which isn’t that bad considering that I rarely get to play in GPTs let alone, have my first experience of making it to the play-offs. I can also say that this was one of the tourneys that I am able to perform optimally. For reference, here’s the deck that I used:

Mono-Blue Devotion

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 25

21 Island

3 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Creatures: 28

4 Cloudfin Raptor

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 7

2 Bident of Thassa

1 Cyclonic Rift

2 Jace, Architect of Thought

2 Rapid Hybridization

Sideboard: 15

1 Aetherling

1 Bident of Thassa

1 Cyclonic Rift

1 Curse of the Swine

1 Dispel

2 Dissolve

2 Domestication

4 Gainsay

1 Rapid Hybridization

1 Ratchet Bomb

With Born of the Gods scheduled to have its official release this weekend, it wouldn’t be long before this list changes though frankly, I am not really sure if there’s still room for innovation other than having a couple of Thassa’s Rebuff in the 75 or maybe even a couple of Fated Infatuation in the main. And I am more inclined to include the counter spell than the clone effect that the latter offers for the reason that counters are more likely to get the job that I want than the latest version of cackling counterpart. Then again, I’ve yet to see how the metagame will look like in the first few weeks to determine how the deck would best adapt to the would-be environment.

For the time being, let me share some of the things that I learned from my recent GPT experience.

Sideboarding: As most pros would say, there’s no clear cut way to sideboard against opponents. The art of sideboarding is something you develop and perfect on your own through your experience in dueling with different decks. Though there are cards in the 75 that are non-negotiable when it comes to boarding them in and or boarding them out, it’s not always the case.

Take this case for example: I was up against a GR Devotion and often monoblue players would board out their Bidents, expecting the GR Devotion to board in artifact hate like destructive revelry. What I did was keep the bidents in and instead, boarded out my Jaces since at that time, I was confident that I can take the aggressor’s role and lead the way with a bident which was what happened.

Even though the opponent was playing defensively, he couldn’t defend effectively because I forced his Boros Reckoner and his lone Burning-Tree Emissary by activating the ability of the Bident. Even though he drew a Mistcutter Hydra and played it post-combat through an online Chandra, Pyromaster, it was already too late since he’s already wide open and the counter swing from me finished the game. He wasn’t expecting I’d leave the bidents in so he decided to just leave his revelries in the side since based on his experience; mono-blue players typically board out their bidents.

In the semis, I faced off with a hyper-aggressive deck and though Thassa plays a big role when it comes to finishing off games, I didn’t want to draw multiples of the God so instead of keeping four, I cut one from the main. I also did the same for Master of Waves while completely removing my Bidents with the idea that I’d probably be defensive most of the time which was what happened in all three games.

I left my Jaces in the main because they’re good against this particular matchup and boarded in a miser dispel which proved to be critical to the opponent when I countered his last breath aimed towards my Master of Waves, eventually winning me the match. Also, being able to hybridize your own creatures to ambush your opponents’ attacking soldier creatures is very invaluable when it comes to such a match up. I guess I was also lucky to draw my Jaces even though I only have two in my 75.

Sideboarding can be tricky, especially the part of boarding out cards in exchange for cards that you want to put in from your sideboard. But with practice, you will be able to find the best configuration for every matchup. Also, you have to keep in mind that you cannot just jam every card in your sideboard that is effective against a particular strategy by default. Doing so may cause your deck to be diluted which can negatively affect its consistency and plan.

Don’t Think Too Much: This can be more damaging to your performance in the tournament than it would help. Thinking too much can cause you to misplay more since you tend to get into the heat of the moment that you tend to neglect other factors that are apparent in the current board state.

Take this for example, my opponent attacked with his two Precinct Captains and I blocked each one with a blue elemental token from my Master. Thing is that I put my two Elemental tokens in the graveyard  as well as my opponent when I had a +1 Jace, Architect of Thought activation and TWO Master of Waves on the battlefield. This means that my creatures shouldn’t have died at that time.

Another reason why thinking too much is not that helpful is that it causes you to focus too much on winning that you become vulnerable to tilting when the game’s slowly slipping away from you which you shouldn’t fall into. Remember, being anxious about losing and succumbing to tilt and frustration will get you losing more games than winning them.

Whenever you start a match, don’t try thinking of anything. Not even winning. Just focus on your technical plays and in how you can beat your opponent the soonest possible time. Thinking of winning and not losing will just put pressure on you and can potentially cause you to be overly conscious with your plays that you end up performing sub-optimally. Just make the best technical play that can get your opponent’s life to zero as oppose to thinking of winning.

Winning will eventually be yours if your mind is free from anxieties, worries and stress. And because your mind is stress free, you’re able to process better plays than when you’re under pressure. Of course it can be difficult to do so especially if you’re already at the latter part of the tournament, and especially when you’re competing in a huge event but it helps to lessen the pressure on yourself.

Build Rapport: This is something that players rarely do though it’s understandable that not all are interested in having small talk before or after games or maybe they just don’t find any reason to engage in a conversation. But the thing is that talking to your opponent and establishing rapport with them contributes to your growth as a player. Magic: The Gathering is not just a card game. It’s also a game which opens up opportunities to meet new friends and to learn from each other.

Always try to open up an opportunity to learn from your opponents. Try asking getting to know cards that they have in their decks, the reason behind their inclusion and exclusion of certain cards as well as their rationale in boarding in and boarding out certain cards on certain match ups. Try to learn and find out what you could possibly do from them. Remember, the more informed you are, the more you’ll be able to make decisions in-game, not counting experience especially when faced against different kinds of decks.

Of course not all would be comfortable in sharing their hidden techs or their strategies but it’s understandable. Also keep in mind that you should also learn to reveal information about your deck to your opponents. Think of this as a fair trade after hearing their side of the story regarding their decks. I lost two straight games against a rogue Junk Hexproof in the swiss. It was hard to deal with it because my deck wasn’t built to battle threats that have hexproof and that are enchanted with Gift of Orzhova.

Not to mention that it has a plethora of spot removals reminiscent of a typical Mono-Black Devotion deck, but have Skylashers in the sides and main board. After our games, we talked about our decks and our sideboard configuration. I must say that I am pretty lucky for having a jovial opponent so I was more than willing to share my deck’s configuration and my match up results. Initially, you’d think that the conversation didn’t really matter until we got paired again in the semis in which case we both laughed while remembering the conversation we had earlier that day regarding both our deck’s configuration and strategies.

And I didn’t shy away in applying the information I learned from him and about his deck but then again, I still lost to him. The information may seem useless on the surface since my deck didn’t had what it took to defeat the Junk Hexproof but then again, based on how the games went, I can say that my game improved since I had knowledge on what cards to play around and I was able to configure my 75 more appropriately. Though I was determined to win my rematch with the guy, I still lost. But I can honestly say that he deserves the win. Heck, he constructed a decent deck to deal with the metagame in that tournament.

This is not to say that you should befriend your opponents just to squeeze intel regarding their decks and strategies. Remember, winning in Magic: The Gathering is NOT everything and to reiterate, it’s a game where you can meet new friends. Having friends who can tell you what you’re doing wrong in games and giving you advice on how to improve your games and those who can support you is always an invaluable asset.  If you have friends who’re really good with the game then it’s even better. So the next time that you square off with an opponent, you may want to consider engaging your opponent in a friendly conversation.

The only exception to this would be opponents who don’t seem to appear to be in the mood to talk about their decks, especially after losing against you. Learn to discern and learn to find the right opportunity.

To sum it all up:

Sideboarding: Practice, practice, practice and experiment until you get the best configuration. Familiarize yourself with how your deck interacts with your opponent’s deck and identify the cards that are not performing and replace them with the cards that you think would help you gain a leverage against the opponent’s deck. Don’t put in too much sideboard since it may dilute your deck and ruin your deck’s plan and consistency.

Don’t Think Too Much: Don’t pressure yourself into winning and not losing. Just focus and improve your technical plays. Winning will eventually follow.

Build Rapport: Learn to engage your opponents into a friendly conversation. Learn from them. Don’t be embarrassed or shy to ask anything that you want to find out about their decks. Gauge your opponent if he’s one who’s nice enough to share his ideas or deck strategies. Be fair and learn to share information as well.

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Which Metals Would Suit Men’s Wedding Rings

Benchmark Rings

There are a variety of wedding rings which men can choose from to pair with the engagement ring that they will be giving their fiancés. There are actually a couple of metal which can be used to create men’s wedding bands. You can also choose from the wide selection of rings by Benchmark made of precious metals. But generally, here are some other types of wedding bands based on materials used.

  • Gold Wedding Bands: One of the most popular choices when it comes to men’s wedding rings. What is important when choosing a gold men’s wedding ring is the gold’s carat and the combination of its colors. Gold carats range from 9kt, 14kt,  and 18kt. Furthermore, the higher the amount of gold used to make the ring, the more expensive and valuable it will become.
  • Titanium Wedding Rings: If you are looking for something really sturdy then titanium is for you. It is a natural element and the hardest natural metal in existence. Compared to steel, gold and other metals, titanium is really tough and it can endure various harsh environments. It appears to have a silver-grayish-white color.
  • Platinum Wedding Rings: There are only a couple of platinum wedding rings available for men to choose from as compared to titanium rings and or gold rings. Since it is a dense and heavy metal, it weighs more than an 18 carat gold ring. It is even more expensive than gold since it is often used in jewelry in its purest form.
  • Tungsten Wedding Ring:  For the past few years, tungsten has gradually gained popularity when it comes to making wedding rings. Similar to titanium, it is durable and very strong and costs almost the same as a titanium ring. What’s great about these kinds of wedding rings is that they always appear to be newly-polished. You no longer need to polish it since that is its natural appearance and luster.
  • Silver Wedding Ring: Sterling silver is perhaps the most affordable metal which you can purchase as compared to the aforementioned metals. Since it does not possess the hardness that the other materials possess, and it is susceptible to oxidization, silver rings are not often encouraged.

All these rings eventually suffer damages or scratches at some point with tungsten being an exception. Because of this, you have to do your part in taking care of it. Since rings getting damaged on occasion are not avoidable, you have the option of going to your local jeweler to have them polish your ring. At least make it a point to have your ring polished twice in a year.