The Turning of Satsuki Kiryuin!

Is Satsuki poised to become the Vegeta of KILL LA KILL...only better?

Anime and manga in general is pretty well filled with powerful villains turned either good or morally ambiguous rivals. Toriyama's DRAGON BALL did this on several occasions. First with Piccolo, Vegeta, Android 18, and Buu. That can even be extended to various other franchises. That's a difficult premise to pull off and keep the character's motivations. Vegeta just stands out to us, because even though he came to the side of the Z-Fighters, he never lost his rivalry with Goku.

As I began watching Trigger's KILL LA KILL series in early October, I went in with a single view of Satsuki Kiryuin. She's dominating, head strong, ruthless, and thought little of humanity that doesn't conform to her ways. That seems to be the impression we have of her for the first few episodes, then Episode 3 "Junketsu" comes along. Slowly cracks in my preconceptions started to develop. Back when Satsuki challenged the friendship between Ryuko and Mako, she walked away smiling as she seemingly failed to break the pair apart and prove the point that humanity are "pigs in human clothing" that are blinded by greed and need taming by force.

I've read some complaints that several of the story flashbacks didn't add much to developing the members of the Elite Four, but was that even their purpose? I actually thought that we learned more about Satsuki. Just through the eyes of others. From her position, she saw people from privilege exploiting others or depending on their parent's influence to avoid the consequences of being a delinquent. Is she wrong that greed corrupts humanity?

When Ryuko lost control of herself as she fought against Nui. Satsuki tried to get through to her with words before she attacked. Even when she was ready to put Ryuko down, she held Nui off to allow Mako to save her. Several days later, she was straight forward to Ryuko and admitted that it was on her orders that Nui went after her father.

With Senketsu's destruction, I'm once again left confused. Satsuki has rescued Ryuko again, but she also took away the scraps of Senketsu. Although, the closing shot shows a single shred is left in her hand, and Aikuro found her carefully covered. As I was thinking back, I started to wonder if that piece was always in Ryuko's hand.

Kill la Kill Ep. 13 - Right hand empty

I went back and watched the episode once more. In all the scenes showing a vulnerable Ryuko, nothing is seen in her right hand until Aikuro finds her. Only then is the piece rather obvious. This is a series that pays attention to the little details. Just look at the episode with the PULP FICTION cameo.

Kill la Kill Ep. 13 - Right hand filled

It could be very likely that the piece was always in her hand, and it just wasn't illustrated. Although, if Satsuki is the sort of person who would cover an enemy, isn't it just as likely that she could have left that piece with her on purpose? I'm not making the claim that she's doing this as some sort of fondness for Ryuko, but she seems to want to keep her around. Likely for some purpose of her own.

Other recent events have also suggested that Satsuki may not be the good little soldier of her mother's organization that earlier episodes had suggested. Even Vegeta played along with Frieza until he had the chance to turn. The biggest difference, Satsuki is far more competent. Think about this. For as much as Ryuko has been fighting, in the end it's only helped to make Satsuki stronger.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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Japan has the Best Christmas Trees!

The above image is from the Aqua City Odaiba Shopping Mall in Tokyo, Japan. Seems they added something far better than just some run-of-the-mill Christmas tree. They have a huge Godzilla tree decorated with lights, and it even fires out a plume of smoke.

It's a shame we never seen awesome stuff like this in the US. You know if someone did, Fox News would be screaming about the War on Christmas.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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ONE PIECE in the New York Times!!

Today on November 21, 2013, the NEW YORK TIMES, one of the best selling newspapers in the U.S., hosted an ad for the blockbuster selling manga series, ONE PIECE. This full page ad can be found on Page A15.

This was apparently partially to celebrate ONE PIECE selling over 300 Million copies of Eiichiro Oda's creation. 130 Million of these having been sold since 2009. In every sense of the word, nothing in manga or comics sells quite like this series.

To give a little perspective. Last year, Shueisha published four collected volumes of ONE PIECE and those sold over 23 Million units. It's closest competitor KUROKO NO BASUKE's five volumes of the same year sold just over 8 Million copies. That doesn't even calculate in back issue sales.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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Drawing Iron Man Gif

Click to see animation

Recently, I was commissioned to draw Iron Man in the movie Mark VII armor in a battle against Kallen Kozuki in the Guren S.E.I.T.E.N. The setting selected was the AVENGERS movie version of Stark Tower. It's been a rather complicated picture.

I've drawn Iron man for this person before, but that was Tony vs. Lelouch Lamperouge with the Shinkirou in the skies above the Tokyo Settlement. The guy who hired me on that commission sent me a photo of several voice actors from the CODE GEASS anime holding the image after they signed it.

To make this new drawing. I first sketched the basic design on paper to work out the pose. I'm not so confident in my skills on a tablet to draw completely digital. I used this pose drawing to sketch the Mark VII armor with blue lines on my tablet in Photoshop Elements. I find that reads the pressure better from my tablet than say Photoshop CS. I then used that as a guide to digitally ink the final version of the armor.

If you click on the image to the right, you can see an image progression showing how the picture evolved. I've also been posting stages of this image in progress on my new Tumblr page. http://kristofferremmell.tumblr.com/

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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The Creator of DRAGON BALL to Return with a Brand New Series!!

The man who brought us Son Goku has a new story about an alien here to defend the planet.

Akira Toriyama is considered a legend among manga creators. He's the man who brought us Son Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo. It was his DRAGON BALL series that inspired many of the biggest manga writers and artists of the modern era. If it hadn't been for him, we'd likely have never had characters such as Naruto Uzumaki or Monkey D. Luffy. Toriyama has been mainly out of the game since DRAGON BALL closed back in 1995. He's occasionally published some one-shots, but nothing coming near a regular serialized story. It seems that may be about to change this July.

In the same week that Shueisha's WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP magazine celebrates 45 years in publication, WSJ will be publishing Toriyama's latest series, JACO THE GALACTIC PATROLMAN (銀河パトロール ジャコ, Ginga Patorōru Jako). The only plot details we know so far is that the story revolves around a powerful alien police officer that is stranded on Earth. Almost has a GREEN LANTERN vibe, huh?

It's unknown just how long this series will be lasting. Not every manga series is a 50+ volume epic. Some can be remarkably shorter. I've done some reaching out to some people "in the know", and the only thing they've been able to tell me is that this is not a one-shot.

Chapter one of JACO THE GALACTIC PATROLMAN will be publishing in WSJ on July 15, 2013. What's really exciting is that this will also be published in the official digital edition that's released to the U.S. audience, which is on same day release with Japan. Adding to all the fun is the news that this week Japan's WSJ also expanded its same day digital publication to the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Much of the world is going to get to enjoy this latest manga series about an alien defending the planet.

If you want to join in on this new adventure, be sure to look into downloading the WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP App for your iOS or other devices. I'm reading on the VIZ Media app for my Kindle Fire. The U.S. has a year's subscription to the weekly series for $25.99, and a monthly subscription for all the other regions (UK £1.99 / IRL 2,69€ / AU $2.99 AUD / NZ $4.19 NZD). Single issue sales are also available.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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Connecting Dots: Jason Todd and Arashi Mikami

Arashi Mikami is the Jason Todd that everyone wanted
Jason Todd

I've often heard on the Comic Vine podcast as the staff have talked about how a series can't have a villain as a primary protagonist. The rationale behind the statement is that they feel that an audience can't get behind a hero that kills. If you're talking about psychopathic villains, I agree. However, I also I fundamentally disagree. It all comes down to the motivation of the character and the courage of the publisher.

Jason Todd is a prime example of a character that has lost much of his potential and what made him unique before he was attached as the lead of his own series. What made Jason interesting is that he disagreed with Batman's approach. He lived and experienced the flaw of the "never kill" mantra. When you look at it from Jason's perspective, he makes a lot of valid points. Keeping certain criminals, such as the Joker, alive is just slowing the tide. He just breaks out to kill more people. All to show Batman that he can. Think of how many innocent people would still be alive if the Joker was dead -- really dead. Who is Batman protecting in this situation, the mother/father that may never get to go home again or himself?

Ultimately, Jason became popular, and the character that was willing to cross the line that Bruce refuses to was lost. Once DC made him the lead of his own title, Jason suddenly started shooting people in the hands and feet. He lost what defined him. The character that saw the flaws in Bruce's methods has been reduced to just a slightly more violent version of Batman. There are enough Batman clones. That isn't redemption. That's a betrayal of his very ideals and beliefs. Here's a little lesson in biology to the audience. A gunshot anywhere on the body is potentially fatal.

Audiences can support a hero that kills. Just look at action movies, such as DIE HARD and INDIANA JONES; or video games along the lines of the TOMB RAIDER and UNCHARTED series. These are heroes that are remorseless killers. Yet people cheer every kill. It's based around how it's done. Killing in the name of defense and protection is an entirely different beast than for personal vengeance or wealth.

Arashi Mikami in action

Now, as I've been reading the manga series TRIAGE X, from Shoji Sato. I can't help but notice that this series has one of the strongest "comic book" vibes I've ever seen in a manga series. You have a town filled with corruption, and a group of masked vigilante killers that work outside of the law. I'm not going to drone on into a synopsis of the series -- go read the wiki for that. I'm here to talk about TRIAGE X's protagonist, Arashi Mikami.

Arashi makes me think of what Jason could be if the publisher hadn't lost their nerve. He doesn't aim for the hands, he aims for the head. He's the latest member of the Black Label team that kills the worst of the worst of the criminal element. There's an evaluation process, and if these killers or mobsters are judged to have no redeeming qualities. They are looked upon as a cancer to be excised.

Even Arashi and Jason's origins have some interesting similarities. When Arashi was eight years-old, he was caught up in a terrorist bombing. He sacrificed his own body shielding his childhood friend, Ryuu. As result, much of his body was devastated, and Ryuu was hardly injured, except for the trauma to his head. Ryuu was brain dead, and his father made the difficult choice to donate his own son's limbs and heart to save Arashi. Arashi wasn't as lucky as Jason to be dipped into a Lazarus Pit. He had years of difficult physical therapy. In Volume 2, Arashi talks about the first time he took a life, and he explains how he can kill and still have a conscience. I'm not going to go into details, but it's impressively deep.

I can't really say if Jason Todd influenced Shoji Sato in the creation of Arashi. I actually find the idea highly unlikely. However, I would like to point out that Arashi's sawed-off shotgun is called the "Double Joker". Take of that what you will. The ways Arashi and Jason are different is that Arashi isn't arrogant and angry. If anything, he's rather emotionally detached. Which comes across as much more believable for someone who's lived through such a trauma at such a young age. He's a person who nearly died and trying to learn what it means to be alive. That makes him a great straight man for the crazy cast surrounding him.

If you're the kind of reader who's tired of a toned down characters. I could recommend TRIAGE X. Sato's art is well known for his detail. and he brings his A game to this one. However, to be able to kill so often means the series has a Mature rating, in Japan it's categorized as a Seinen series. It has some rather graphic violence and some nudity. There are three volumes of the series out in English. I've reviewed the first two volumes.

I hope you enjoyed another in my series of connecting the dots between manga and comics. There is another series that I could recommend that proves you can have a running series about villains, but that's an article for another day. If you have any questions. Feel free to post them in the comments.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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MAN OF STEEL's Zod Problem! [Spoilers]

Zod was a bit off in MAN OF STEEL. Just another warning. There will be SPOILERS inside. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Firstly, a quick show of hands. Who figured out that I was using "Zod" for the article title in place of the word "Odd"? Anyone? Okay, moving on.

I am not one of the MAN OF STEEL detractors. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. If anything, I roll my eyes at the idea that Superman should have spent more of the movie's precious time constraints on saving kittens from trees to repeatedly prove what a swell guy he can be. If that's what you want in Superman. Go watch SUPERMAN IV.

A commander who honestly felt he was doing what needed to be done.

A problem that I had was with General Zod, but it had nothing to do with the acting. Michael Shannon was a brilliant case of casting. He portrayed an antagonist that was layered and embodied the follies of Krypton's genetic predetermination policies. He was born, bred, and taught his entire life to be a general that put his people first. He never even considered thinking outside of those constraints. It's in that motivation where I saw a problem with the plot.

Why would Zod want to terraform Earth to a Kryptonian atmosphere? Sure, it's probably one of the more effective ways to wipe out humanity with the least amount of effort. However, both the Earth's gravity and environment granted him and his kind with enhanced strength, flight, super hearing, and heat vision. Those sound like some pretty incredible tactical benefits. The movie even heavily implies that it's more than the yellow sun that gives them power. That's shown when we see Superman lose much of his abilities while on Zod's ship.

What general would give up becoming the weapon?

Yes, they periodically talked about there being a level of painful adjustment to breathing on Earth, but I doubt it would take years, as Zod states in the film. Zod adjusts to both the atmosphere and his powers in a matter of what was probably hours -- in story time. That's not even taking into consideration that they could likely develop a system to incrementally adjust with their technology. He even has evidence that it's possible to completely convert by looking to Clark, who arrived on Earth as an infant.

I just felt that a general would be more focused on trying to make his people even more powerful than before. I've said my piece on the matter. Anyone else find that odd? By the by, there were SPOILERS in this article. Just saying.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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CROSS MANAGE: Things Are Only Getting Better!!

A series about strong girls published in a magazine that has more famously focused on male power fantasies.

Fujioka High is ready for the Second Half

As a member of the official WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP online magazine, I've been following big title series such as ONE PIECE, NARUTO, and BLEACH, but the new series that has really captured me is CROSS MANAGE, created by KAITO. This is a sports manga series that follows the underdog girl's lacrosse team of Fujioka High School.

I started in on the series since chapter 15. This is an excellent manga about a group of girls who may not be the most athletic, but this unlikely group bands together to try and pull off the impossible, winning the National High School Lacrosse Tournament. With the most recent events of chapter 36, Fujioka has made it into the tournament, and they're currently facing Choran Academy, the tournament champions for the past ten years, in the second round. The score is 2-1, in Choran's favor, at the half-time mark, but these girls haven't lost heart that they can win.

One of the more surprising things you need to understand about CROSS MANAGE involves who is publishing the series. This is being serialized in Shueisha's WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP, a magazine that originally marketed toward a young male audience. Yet here they are with a series that focuses on a primarily female cast. This might be in response to the growing female readership of WSJ in the past few years.

Reading this series every week excites me, makes me laugh, and puts a smile on my face. Set aside your prejudices against manga just long enough to look into this series. Volume 1 of CROSS MANAGE is now available for digital download in English through VIZ for $4.99. You can download the first chapter (60 pages) or read it online for free HERE.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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ONE PIECE FILM: STRONG WORLD Coming to the US in 2013!!

ONE PIECE FILM: STRONG WORLD was a movie released in late 2009 to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the ONE PIECE anime, based upon the best selling manga of the same name. This not only was the tenth of the ONE PIECE films, but it was also the very first that had series creator Eiichiro Oda overseeing the production and story.

More often than not, anime movies based on manga have no real place in continuity. However, Oda ties events of this movie into the official manga canon. Before this movie's release, Oda created the ONE PIECE Ch. 0. In this special chapter, Oda ties the movies lead villain, Shiki, into the cast as a bitter rival of Gold Roger. Shiki was also mentioned by name during the Impel Down Arc of the manga.

This movie has been completely unavailable to many in the west, outside of the circles who have pirated the movie online. That is until now. In mid-2012, FUNimation, the company that licenses the ONE PIECE anime to the U.S. market, announced they had acquired the rights to distribute STRONG WORLD in North America. Sources at FUNi have given word that it should be released on DVD and Blu-ray sometimes in late 2013. I know I'm excited.

A basic summary of the movie. The villain Shiki, who stood his ground against the pirate king, has returned to conquer he seas. He abducts Nami to be his navigator. Now, Luffy must decide to go on his adventure without her, or face off with his eight remaining crew against Shiki's army of five thousand.

Until the movie is released, enjoy this official trailer of the movie.

Now, all we have left to ask, when should we hope to see ONE PIECE FILM: Z released?

-Kristoffer Remmell ( FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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Connecting Dots between Comic Vine Staff and Manga

Often times in my blogs, I like to showcase or educate the mostly Western comic audience of Comic Vine about some of the characters or series from Japanese manga. A few months back, I thought it would be interesting to showcase some characters by comparing some I felt shared similarities with the Comic Vine staff writers. I'm just now getting around to writing it. Back while I was still in school, I did quite well in the study of psychology. More precisely, in the area of analyzing personality.

Let me be clear. This is not in any way based on the character's appearance. This is a focus on character personality. Naturally, I can only go by what I've learned through being a member on the site, reading articles, and listening to the podcasts. I will also not be directly connecting the dots between these characters and the Comic Vine staff. I'm going to be giving you a brief summary of each of the characters, then I'll let the reader make the connections themselves. I hope you enjoy.

Tony Guerrero and Isshin Kurosaki

Isshin Kurosaki is a Soul Reaper and former head of the Tenth Division of the Gotei 13 in the Soul Society. Though he seems rather relaxed for a commander, he was also very devoted to those that served under him. He made the decision to give up his powers as a Soul Reaper to save the life of the woman he would eventually marry and have three children with. As a father, Isshin seems often goofy and playful, but what can never been questioned is his devotion to family.

Sara Lima and Nico Robin

Nico Robin is the archeologist of the Straw Hat Pirates. She's a mature beauty who is always fashionable, and she is highly intelligent. At the age of six, she became a scholar, she's traveled much of the world, and she can understand numerous languages. When not out on wild adventures, Robin can often be found in the library or on the deck of the Thousand Sunny reading a book and drinking coffee. She aims to discover the truth behind the 100 year void of history, a goal that's been outlawed by the World Government. Researching this gap in history is why Robin's home island of Ohara was obliterated by the World Government.

Mat Elfring and Kisuke Urahara

Kisuke Urahara was the former captain of the Twelfth Division of the Gotie 13. Much of his history was a complete mystery, but he has been known to hold several jobs through his long career. At first a jailer, then the founder of the scientific research division. While on Earth, Kisuke runs his own little shop in Karakura Town. He's the man who taught Ichigo Kurosaki to fight. While he can be deathly serious when the need arises, he's always found time to do things with a cutting sense of humor. Just hope you're never the butt of his jokes.

For Mat, I very nearly went with Dr. Franken Stein, but I don't believe he's a sadist; or Nozomu Itoshiki, but I also don't think he has serious issues with depression - his students may be just as insane.

Less is known about staff members Corey, Gregg, and Jen. It made it hard to make any general comparison to any of the characters that I know about. Is there any character from manga that you could suggest for these three?

-Kristoffer Remmell ( FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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