OUT FOR THE HOLIDAY

As stated above, work, life, and all things between will be keeping me busy for the next two weeks so rather than publish a few rushed and half-hearted entries, I’ll be taking a brief hiatus until after the insanity that is the Thanksgiving season.

Perhaps, if time allows, I’ll even have more than a lone post to share once I’m back in the game. Until then dear readers, a good autumn feast to you all!

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Now, to the distant ends of the earth..!

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ISKANDAR

Iskandar4
Origin: Alexander the Great (History)
Title:
King of Conquerors
Illustrator: Takeuchi Takashi
Featured In:
Fate/Zero
Voiced By: Ohtsuka Akio (Japanese) & Jamieson Price (English)

Riders are distinct among most Servants as virtually any Heroic Spirit can become one with many other classes, notably the Knight Classes of Saber, Lancer, and Archer, possessing the riding skill regardless of their atypical mount’s absence amidst their Noble Phantasms. That in itself is what differentiates Riders as it is oftentimes their “ride” that serves as their Noble Phantasm and can, at times, take a variety of forms and usages. Riders whom were once pirates for example can summon either portions or the entirety of their ship(s) as their Noble Phantasms whilst others, like Saint Martha or Medusa, can summon a specific steed tied to their legend regardless of them actually having “ridden” it.

My own personal choice of Alexander, or Iskandar as he’s often referred to in most of the Fate series, as Rider comes not from his noble steeds but rather on his overall personality. He is a man whom had managed to conquer most of the known world and would likely do so again if given the chance thanks in no small part to a degree of charisma that borderlines on the divine.

In point of fact, Iskandar’s degree of Charisma is among the top of most Servants with few reaching the same level as he in inspiring his forces to greater degrees of attack power. His degree of Military Tactics, which again I must remind allowed him to conquer most of the then known world within his lifetime of thirty years, enhances the power of other Servants’ Noble Phantasms, including those whom dwell within his own but more on that later. Last, but not least, are his skills of Divinity and Lightning Conqueror.

In life, Iskandar was thought to be a descendant, if not a direct son, of Zeus himself and the power of that belief grants him a low ranking in Divinity but blesses him with the power of the Greek Lord of the Sky by way of his first, and definitely weakest, Noble Phantasm.

The Gordius Wheel: Wheel of Heaven’s Authority is an antique war chariot lead by a pair of Divine Bulls whom, in legend, were meant to be offerings to Zeus from King Gordius but Iskandar sought to claim the bulls for himself and did so by cutting the Gordian Knot with his sword. To summon them, Iskandar must swipe the air with his Sword of Cypriots, which in itself is not a true Noble Phantasm merely the key of summoning the Gordius Wheel.

The bulls and the chariot tread atop lightning strikes, with each strike generating the same degree of magical energy Artoria Pendragon would with Excalibur without invoking its full might. It can also travel on any terrain, with the chariot itself changing to be more suitable to the actual ground being traversed, and can also fly through the air at pretty decent speeds.

However, the true power of the Gordius Wheel isn’t unlocked until Iskandar calls out its signature move, Via Expugnatio: Distant Trampling Domination. By uttering this name, the bulls pulling the Gordius Wheel can travel a distance of a hundred meters within less than a second. The amount of damage it deals out is decided on two key factors, first being whether or not the opponent is hit by “eight strikes” from the hooves of the bulls and the wheels of the chariot itself. The second is if those unfortunate enough to be run over by the thing have the fortitude to withstand not only getting run over but also being simultaneously struck by lightning with each and every blow.

Yet, as I had said earlier, this is the weakest of Iskandar’s Noble Phantasms. His most powerful one, which puts him in the pinnacle of most Servants, comes in the form of a Reality Marble known as Ionioi Hetairoi: Army of the King. Despite not having been a magus in life nor possessing true divinity in his blood, Iskandar is able to utilize a Reality Marble thanks to the combined efforts of his personal guard whom all shared his dream and whose pledged allegiances to him even after death stay strong.

When activated, Iskandar summons forth a desert battlefield from which appears the entirety of his army, which consists almost entirely of Heroic Spirits whom are of varying degrees of prowess and strength but are each and every capable of being called a Servant.

Ionioi_Hetairoi_FGO

It is here within the depths of his Reality Marble that Iskandar’s favorite mount, Bucephalus, will appear though he can still summon and even utilize the charger as a Noble Phantasm. The horse earned its legend for being not only an extremely violent member of its species that no one could handle but Iskandar himself, but was said to also be one of the rare carnivorous ones of Greek legend, having a particularly taste for the flesh of men. On its own, Bucephalus can take down an army of fifty men with ease and can even call forth the lightning of its father Zeus if it so desired.

Overall, Iskandar is not one of the most powerful of Riders nor is he one whom rides atop beasts of great renown, but the fact remains that he has been, and forever shall be, the most famous of his Class. He is a man dubbed by the Throne of Heroes as King of Conquerors and it is a title well deserved. He is also one of the few Servants out there capable of meeting Gilgamesh, the so-called King of Heroes, on even ground both on and off the battlefield, which believe me, is no easy feat.

Monsters Galore

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With one of my favorite holidays in full swing, and primarily because the recent 3DS game has got me hooked on the franchise once more, today I’ll be reviewing my top five favorite monsters from Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise. Why top three? Because honestly, these five give me plenty enough to talk about without delving into the ever increasing monster kingdom of the games. However, unlike previous top whatever lists I’ve made, this one will NOT be in order of preference, merely which ones come immediately to mind.

LAGIACRUS

MHGen-Lagiacrus_Render_001

Titles: Sea Wyvern, The Lord of the Sea
Species: Leviathan
Elements: Thunder
Weak Against: Fire
Primary Habitats: Tropical Waters

What do you get when you combine a crocodile with a king cobra with an added dash of electric eel? You might get something resembling the Lagiacrus. The monster whom served as the flagship of the third generation, featured on box art, advertisements, and plot relevance (at least in that particular game), the Lagiacrus is one of the more commonly recognized monsters of the franchise.

Reaching lengths of over a hundred feet, the Lagiacrus is one of the deadliest of the leviathan species, it rightfully earns the name of Lord of the Sea. The only natural predator the Lagiacrus have is the Narkaros, an elder dragon species known by its title of Corpse Dragon (despite being a cephalopod) for its use of Lagiacrus bones as both armor and weapon against other prey and hunters.

They can stay over half a day underwater without needing to come up for air and while they may occasionally beach themselves to sleep, they are no less dangerous on land than they are in the water. They are highly aggressive and extremely territorial monsters but have a rather surprising diet of fish, lobsters, and herbivore monsters like Apioth.

Despite being a sea-dweller, Lagiacrus are weak against fire, which oftentimes puts them at odds with the fire wyvern species of Rathalos and Rathian, whom often clash with the Lagiacrus over larger prey. Lagiacrus make up for this odd weakness with a series of electrical energy producing sacs located at the base of their dorsal spikes along their back, and thanks to the unique makeup of their saliva can even “spit” balls of lightning at a surprising distance.

Lagiacrus are one of the few species of monsters that seem capable of cowing a Rathalos, or at least getting it to weigh its options. Considering that most Rathalos exercise the honey badger school of thought, that is to say giving-no-bucks, that’s pretty impressive.

Of the monsters in Monster Hunter, Lagiacrus is arguably one of the most difficult ones to fight in that it primarily attacks from within the water. Excluding the risk of electrocution, do you know how utterly difficult it is to try and kill something that is capable of swimming literal circles around you?

Have any of you ever seen the atypical armor and weaponry needed to even scratch of one these things? They are NOT light and do not make for enhanced swimming let me tell you!

GLAVENUS

MHGen-Glavenus_Render_001

Titles: Cutting Wyvern
Species: Brute Wyvern
Elements: Fire
Weak Against: Dragon, Water
Primary Habitats: Jungles, Volcanic Regions

The flagship monster of Monster Hunter Generations, the Glavenus is what happens when one decides to cross a dinosaur, notably a Carnotaurus, with a sword. Part of the brute wyvern species, the Glavenus are a highly aggressive species of monster, willing and able to chase down its prey for miles if need be and are considered to be one of the most highly intelligent monsters around by the Hunters Guild.

Contrary to most monsters, let alone brute wyverns, the Glavenus has displayed considerable skill in battle, utilizing its tail as an impressive defense against most weapons, including some pretty powerful ammunition. Utilizing the unique materials composing its tail, the Glavenus will drag it on the ground in increasing speeds before the bladed tail ignites into a flaming sword.

Note that the tail blade on its own is capable of rending most monsters in twain with a single swipe. Set aflame, the tail blade can still cut down most adversaries with the added benefit of explosions.

Should its blade get dulled, the Glavenus will swings its tail into its mouth and use a quartet of specialized fangs to sharpen it anew. It also has the added bonus of allowing the Glavenus to swallow the soot and ore that its tail accumulated into a special fire sac in its throat. The sac can convert these materials into a semisolid form with the same consistency of magma and contrary to most other similarly armed species of monster, the Glavenus can hold its flames in its throat, allowing it to burn its prey while it bites down on them.

That’s not to say it has no means of extended attack either. Rather than straight balls of flame, the projectiles the Glavenus can unleash will either explode on contact with living targets or can be left to detonate on their own if fired to the ground. For a creature of its size and bulk, the Glavenus can be surprisingly agile and is actually able to leap some good distance into and through the air if need be.

The Glavenus is far from being the strongest monster in the franchise but certainly makes up for it through sheer aggression alone given that it is willing and able to contend with the likes of other monsters far bigger, and stronger, than itself. More often than not, these fights end with a wounded but victorious Glavenus.

GORE MAGALA

MH4-Gore_Magala_Render_001

Titles: Black Eclipse Wyvern
Species: ???
Elements: None
Weak Against: Dragon, Thunder, Fire
Primary Habitats: Mountainous Regions

Of all monsters, Gore Magala is the most distinct among them in that while it is classified as its own species, one can argue that it in fact belongs to the elder dragon species as it is, in truth, the juvenile form of the Shagaru Magala. Regardless of its apparent age and immaturity, the Gore Magala is one of the deadliest monsters to exist and is one of the few that most monsters, including elder dragons, will actively avoid for one reason alone.

This monster, and its variant deviant species and adult form, are the source and primary carriers of the frenzy virus. This virus causes extremely violent behavior in monsters and will eventually lead them to their deaths. those few that manage to not only survive the virus but became carriers of it are known as Apex Monsters, and will actively go out of their way to find others of their species and kill them.

The Gore Magala spreads the frenzy virus by way of its pollen-like scales, most notably the fine hairlike ones from its wings that it uses to better see its environment and body heat of its prey. Should it smell nearby prey, the Gore Magala will loose even more hairs until the sky itself seems to grow dark before its hornlike feelers shoot upwards from its head and it will enter a frenzied state, unlatching its wings from its back to better move around and attack its prey. These claws are heavily ridden with the virus and can leave deep gouges that will not heal.

The Gore Magala’s breath weapon combines with the fine hairs it pollutes throughout the area, causing miniaturized explosions of the virus to go off like a minefield around its prey, further infecting them and enhancing its senses. While it is aggressive, the Gore Magala is most dangerous when it migrates to the Sanctuary located in the heart of Heaven’s Mount, a perilous peak with no equal.

It is here and here alone where a Gore Magala will molt its darkened hide and emerge anew into a golden splendor and so is the most dangerous. Should the molting fail, the Gore Magala will become a mongrel of a beast, incapable of controlling the frenzy virus any longer and become little more than a savage monster hellbent on killing anything in its path.

Yet, for all its potent ferocity, the Gore Magala is also incredibly cunning. It has demonstrated the art of playing dead against more dangerous adversaries and slipping away unseen at the first opportunity. It is also known to come swooping in on ships traversing the Great Sea and loosing the frenzy virus upon all those aboard as though away of the potential dangers that awaits in the passengers, whom are oftentimes hunters on a quest to slay the beast.

Reading should be done slowly while savoring the contents…

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NURSERY RHYME

Rhyme4
Origin: Children Storybooks and Songbooks
Illustrator: Wada Arco
Featured In:
Fate/Extra
Voiced By: Nonaka Ai (Japanese)

Of all Servant Classes, Casters are arguably the most unique insomuch that while a good majority are actual practitioners of the arcane and mystical arts there are those who are bestowed this Class because they created something akin to magic in the eyes of people across the entire globe. William Shakespeare, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Hans Christian Anderson are such examples of Casters who, in life, did not produce any literal magic but managed to do something that could be called the same regardless.

My own personal choice of Caster is akin to these great men but quite different in her own right though not the only one of her kind either. Nursery Rhyme is in essence a product of humanity’s subconscious. She is a physical manifestation of picture books and other children’s tales that the kids of England deeply loved and was given existence by their half-voiced dreams.

Her very foundation, or rather her “heart,” was made from, and is quite likely responsible for, the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which had begun as a series of simple rhymes told by Lewis Carroll to the daughters of a family friend whilst rowing down the River Thames one summer’s day.

Admittedly, this is a large chunk of the reason why I’d specifically summon Nursery Rhyme as a Caster seeing as she is, quite literally in essence, the heart and soul of one of my favorite books.

Being a metaphorical existence, Nursery Rhyme doesn’t actually possess a “body” in the strictest sense of the word. Her base form is that of a certain book but given enough magical energy, she can create a body of her own that resembles the titular character of her book form. While she can heavily modify her defense with such skills as Self-Modification and Shapeshift, Nursery Rhyme also possesses one of the unique traits of recharging her magical energy with an aptly named skill called “Meanwhile…”

While not utilized fully in the game Grand Order, Nursery Rhyme’s “spells,” if they can even be called as such, are primarily named after certain characters from the Wonderland books. “Frenzied March Hare” is a powerful wind attack spell while “White Queen’s Enigma” is a curse that lowers an enemy’s resistance to magical attacks.

She is also one of the rare Servants to have more than a single Noble Phantasm to her name but as one required direct interaction with her master, I’ll only speak of the other, Nursery Rhyme: A Story For Someone Else’s Sake.

Named after herself, or rather she named after it, the NP Nursery Rhyme is a Reality Marble type of Noble Phantasm. For those not familiar with the term, a Reality Marble is the literal reshaping of the world around the user to reflect their own soul. While it is quite common for Casters to be capable of utilizing such a thing, it is exceptionally rare in any other Class and nearly improbable for any human to use. Improbable not impossible, but I digress.

Nursery_Rhyme_FGO.gif

While the animation above shows a clearly childlike array of things coming to the attack, this is merely the first wave that results from this Noble Phantasm’s execution. Nursery Rhyme can also summon Trump Soldiers, more commonly known as Card Soldiers, whose numbers are limited to a single deck of cards but are nigh invincible thanks to Nursery Rhyme constantly regenerating any damage dealt upon them.

While far from extremely powerful whence compared to other, similar, creations, the Trump Soldiers have the advantage of sheer-doggedness and the inability to permanently die so long as the Noble Phantasm remains in place.

Next, Nursery Rhyme can call forth the Nameless Forest of Wonderland, a place that earns its name for an incredibly disturbing ability. Whomsoever walks through the Nameless Forest will first forget their name, then their memories, and eventually their very self. It is an exceedingly deadly place for Servants of small or humble egos whilst those, like Tamamo-no-Mae, an incarnation of the goddess Amaterasu, and Nero, an emperor of Rome, can manage to stand against it.

The only true way to break the spell and restore one’s self is for them to recall their name and can be done by way of reading it aloud should it be written down. However, should the wrong name be uttered, the effect of the Nameless Forest grows by whole leaps and bounds to the point where even language, written or spoken, become a mess of noise and symbols.

Yet, this is far from the deadliest thing lying within Nursery Rhyme’s Noble Phantasm. For there is a creature that dwells just beyond the borders of the Nameless Forest, a monster with eyes of flame, claws that snatch, and jaws that bite.

I speak of course of the ever renowned Jabberwock, a creature that while not appearing at all like the famous illustrations, is no less as fearsome a beast as any dragon worth its name. Its tiniest of motions can bring a quake to the earth beneath its feet and just being near it is enough for one to feel its great and terrible power.

But that’s far from the worst of it.

If by some miracle that one manages to kill it, the Jabberwock will NOT die.

Because there is only one weapon in all of creation capable of killing the Jabberwock, that wicked sword of silvery light known as the Vorpal Blade, of which Nursery Rhyme does likely possess somewhere in the vastness of her recreated Wonderland but she has no need of it. For one, the Jabberwock is her friend and ally against her enemies.

Second, for all that it is a powerful, nigh unstoppable monster of no equal, the Jabberwock does possess one weakness. It needs Nursery Rhyme’s power to maintain a place in the world and while Reality Marbles are indeed second to none in sheer power and magnitude, they are not everlasting as the very concousness of the Earth will do all within its power to ensure that the natural order of Creation is restored.

As one can likely already surmise from my longer than average review on Nursery Rhyme, she, and by default her Class, are one of my personal top choices among the many, many Servants that have been revealed thus far. A large part of it, if not the entirety, has to do with the fact that Nursery Rhyme is literally the essence of my favorite storybooks since forever and whose powers and abilities represent and/or are based entirely upon said works. The rest… I suppose one could save that I have a certain fondness for the Caster class of Servants as a whole.

While there are those who are indeed practitioners of magic, there are far more that are not and the fact that many of them have been inspirations for people the world over for generations since their time… Though Nursery Rhyme herself is merely the conceptual realization of children’s books brought to life, I like to think that it is stories such as hers that set people down the path to their dreams and for all that she may not exist as a true-blooded person, she and she alone out of all the Casters is the only one who truly claim to have sparked the light of imagination in children across the world.

Shelved?!

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Disney’s GiganticGIGANTIC

Now… I do not pretend myself an expert in film making nor do I proclaim myself as one entitled to know all of the ins and outs of the Walt Disney Animation Studios. I will however, declare myself a true blue fan of their films and many of their affiliated works. As such, I can wholeheartedly say that I have never, not ever, been as brokenhearted as I am when the news came out that Disney’s next storybook fantasy film, Gigantic, has been shelved.

NOT CANCELLED.

Despite what a LOT of news reporting websites and other media are reporting, that is NOT what Disney is doing. The direct quote is as follows:

“It’s impossible to know when we begin a project how the creative process will unfold, and sometimes, no matter how much we love an idea or how much heart goes into it, we find that it just isn’t working,” said Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull. “With Gigantic, we’ve come to that point, and although it’s a difficult decision, we are ending active development for now. We are focusing our energies on another project that has been in the works, which we’ll be sharing more about soon, now set for Thanksgiving 2020.”

As you can read by the bolded and underlined portion, they are cancelling active production not the film itself.

For those not in the know, Gigantic’s story is based on the classical tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with dashes of the novel Gulliver’s Travels thrown into the mix. Taking place in Spain during the Age of Exploration, young Jack would find to a land above the clouds and populated extraordinarily large humans, otherwise known as giants. In point of fact, Jack would end up finding and befriending a young giant girl named Inma who despite his many protests to the contrary treats Jack more like a toy than a person.

Now, to be fair to Disney, this has not been the first film to be shelved and likely not the last either. However, of the two other films currently sharing in Gigantic’s hiatus, only one of them has plausible reason as to why it’s likely not going to be made. A film by name of Newt which… is basically the film Rio but with lizards instead of birds. Given that Disney already experienced a rather poorly timed release with an affiliated film, The Wild, to Dreamwork’s Madagascar, I can see why this film has been shelved.

The other film, The King of Elves, has thus far no official reasoning beyond story conception, which I can understand given that it is based on a short story and one that is not as globally recognized as others.

Yet the point still stands that for all that we got a basic plot and even snippets of concept art for these two films, we received that and far more for Gigantic. Aside from the aforementioned art and story concept, it had its own little exhibit at the D23 Expo of 2016, which is essentially Disney’s equivalent to Comic-Con, where aside from the art and story there was also a demo of a song sung by Inma relaying her feelings towards Jack. A song done by the same geniuses behind the earworm that is “Let It Go” from Frozen.

In point of fact, a lot of top guys and girls from previous Disney films were/are involved in Gigantic. I won’t name any names because, as of now, the work that they have done may not still apply to the final product but I will state that the creative minds behind Tangled, Frozen, and Inside Out along with the short Get a Horse! And the upcoming Captain Marvel film! That’s a LOT of top applicators to simply put this film on the shelf.

I guess, the overall point that I’m trying to make here is that while it’s perfectly understandable that Disney wants to focus on other, more pertinent projects that have a higher chance of success than others. I mean, c’mon, like they wouldn’t make a Frozen 2 given the sheer hype of “Let It Go” alone never mind the question on everyone’s minds… What that question is I’ll leave up to you but I digress!

Sigh… to whatever folks at Disney that may have stumbled upon this, my most humble of blogs, while Gigantic may be put on hold for now, please do not let it become lost amidst a net of cobwebs and sea of dust. Please do not forget that sometimes, you just have to take the risk and jump in. Whether you land on your feet or end up stumbling, it doesn’t matter! You guys are freaking Disney! Name me an animated film that “didn’t do well” in the box office and I’ll pull up a whole list of people that are part of its cult following!

Finally, and surprisingly, there is a petition to still keep the film’s production going, or at the least, make sure it’s not forgotten at the following link: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/978/239/480/

As the last pharaoh, I command you…

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CLEOPATRA

CleopatraStage4
Origin: Cleopatra VII Philopator (History)
Illustrator: Komatsuzaki Rui
Featured In:
Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Kugimiya Rie (Japanese)

Arguably the weakest of the Servants, Assassins are those whom in life were secret killers whose prey never knew what, or who, hit them until it was too late. While the most common Servant summoned for this Class are those who share the name of Hassan-I Sabbah as the very word “assassin” was derived from this name. However, such a summoning can be a kind of hit and miss as they are a surprisingly large number to this group with varying degrees of skills and abilities.

This is what makes Cleopatra rather distinct amongst Assassins. Firstly, and frankly most obviously, she is one of the few Assassins who can actually blend into the modern world. Some Assassins either look as they did in the past or are akin to the Hassan-I Sabbah in that they stand out far too easily outside the shadows and darkness that is their creed.

Cleopatra, much to my own bemusement, purposefully dresses as something of a fashionista in her initially summoning, only truly resembling her prim and proper Pharaoh self when maxed out in Fate Grand Order. In public, she tends to play to the trope of haughty queen but in private, she is a cool and collected lady who is not to be underestimated.

When she was alive, she entertained foreign envoys with extravagant comforts but still stayed true to the rules of etiquette and was perceptive. She’d scold them but in truth did care about their well-being.

Having been a Pharaoh, Cleopatra has low ranked Divinity but a surprisingly high Presence Concealment for one whom was, quite frankly, out in the spotlight for a majority of her reign.

Her personal skills include the ever popular Imperial Privilege that allows her to not only restore her health by a significant margin but also has a high chance of increasing her attack, defense, or both. Cleopatra also possesses the Golden Rule (Wealth & Body), which increases not only the power of her Noble Phantasm but will heal her regenerate her injuries for several minutes (or turns) at a time.

Last but not least is the Divine Protection of the Goddess, which removes any ailments afflicting Cleopatra, gives her a higher chance of getting a critical hit, and makes her invincible for a short time.

Contrary to most Servants, Cleopatra’s Noble Phantasm, Uraeus Astrape: Here Stands the Snake, At the Dawn’s End, or sometimes even abbreviated to the Serpent of Fate, is a fairly obvious presence at her side should she will it. Considering it is, quite literally, a giant golden king cobra golem that moves to Cleopatra’s will.

When activated, it grows even larger in size before bursting into flames which then form an even more massive serpent that envelops all of Cleopatra’s opponents at the wee cost of a small piece of her overall health.

This in itself makes Cleopatra an incredibly dangerous Assassin. Remember, in her base form when her power is at its weakest due to being summoned at minimal power, the snake is invisible and likely still retains that ability at her max potential.

Admittedly, her invoking its power negates this trick, as it is rather had to miss some hundred plus feet of flaming golden cobra, but the point still stands that this thing can manage to successfully sneak up on other Servants with them none the wiser until it goes full hellion snake on them.

Uraeus_Astrape

Add in the fact that due to its size in pre-invocation, Cleopatra can target a large number of opponents at once, something that very few Assassins can accomplish with their Noble Phantasms.

It is primarily because of this reason that I would purposefully strive to summon Cleopatra as an Assassin. Truthfully, there are far better Assassins as far as stealth and yes, even power of Noble Phantasms are concerned but as I stated earlier, Cleopatra is one of the normal ones of this Class. Her “weakness” is actually a good thing towards my overall health and those of innocent passersby.

That and in all honesty, I think I’d find her an amusing Servant to have at my side. Say what you will of most Servants, those who have royal, or even godly, blood in their veins tend to be the most eccentric and thus the most entertaining of the lot.

I will exterminate all of the liars who ran from me…!

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KIYOHIME

Kiyohime4
Origin: The Legend of Kiyohime
Illustrator: BLACK
Featured In:
Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Risa Taneda (Japanese)

Berserkers are made up of Heroic Spirits who have gone stark, raving mad and rampaged with all the ferocity such a state of mind entails be it for a single, lone incident or at the end of, or sometimes even after, their legend. A few notable examples, and some really tough ones to decline on my part, include the likes of Heracles and Lancelot who are both ridiculously OP on their own but add in the overall “edge” that most Berserkers have over other Classes and the two truly live up to the term of walking weapons of mass destruction.

However, for all of their vast power, skills, and Noble Phantasms, the one truly greatest drawback of any Berserker is their lack of cognitive thinking. Oh sure, they can still fight well enough, and extremely so in some notable cases, but their higher reasoning oftentimes is either severely lacking or completely nonexistent. Kiyohime is one of the few Berserkers who is not only cognitive enough to reason but can also speak sensibly.

However, that does not excuse her from the atypical madness that afflicts most Berserkers, just that hers is somewhat more… tame… by comparison. … Alright, alright, Kiyohime is just as mad as any other Berserker but her madness focuses on one thing in particular, something that is arguably far more dangerous than the atypical “berserker rage” that most Berserkers are afflicted with.

Love.

More to the point, she is what many in Japan, and several more outside of it, would refer to as a “yandere.” Basically, she is lovey-dovey with her master, regardless of gender though considering one can switch their gender willy-nilly in Fate Grand Order that’s kind of a moot point anyway, but for those who would dare to harm her master, or even if her master should try and spurn her affections by “running away…”

She becomes a homicidal monster on the warpath that little in this world can hope to stop. In life she had become enamored with a man to such a degree that when he did actually flee from her and went so far as to hide himself in a shrine bell, she transformed herself into a dragon and gave pursuit, eventually catching up to him and burning him, and the bell, to molten metal.

As a Servant, Kiyohime’s affections are only turned down by a few degrees. She’ll still be major obsessed with her master but only to a slightly insane level, i.e. wanting details that most don’t even know about themselves such as how many hairs they have atop their head.

She must never, I repeat, NEVER be lied to even for the simplest of things because her Mad Enhancement allows her to see through that lie a full 100%, and you will automatically lose a Command Seal because of it.

However, she can and will allow her master to work with other females, regardless of who, or what, they may be so long as they aren’t rivals for his affection otherwise she will eliminate them utterly. She is noted as being a fine bride with a good disposition and quite skillful in the art of cooking.

While there’s no record of her having blood of Dragonkind in her veins, her Noble Phantasm, and her skill of Shapeshifting, allow her to transform into a low-ranked dragon of the Orient and allow her all the defensive properties, and weaknesses, that sort of transformation entails.

One of her primary skills, aside from the aforementioned Shapeshifting, is known as Stalking, a skill that is oft described as a wild instinct that includes the five senses and magical power which allowed her to track down the monk whom she gave her heart to without fail. No matter how far or how long he fled. While this skill generally lowers the defense of her prey, it also sharply raises their attack alongside their desperation.

Kiyohime’s final “Skill” is known as Flame Colored Kiss. Basically, upon receiving a kiss from her master, any weaknesses placed upon her such as lowered attack or defense is immediately removed and she enters something of a “Super Kiyohime-chan” state. In other words, her attacks gain a bit more power to them but be warned, such a kiss pretty much seals the deal in Kiyohime’s mind and is akin to a wedding proposal for her.

Her Noble Phantasm: Transforming, Flame-Emitting Meditation, transforms her into an enormous fire-breathing serpent that constricts about her foes and burns them to cinder with her potent dragon’s breath. However, as stated before Kiyohime does NOT have dragon’s blood running in her veins and she herself does not recall ever having displayed such a thing prior to the… incident…

TKZ

A likely cause of her transformation might be from having suffered a “wild delusion born of deep yearning for her beloved” and thus could be considered as a representation of her sheer tenacity and relentless obsession with the man who lied to her.

Basically, a result of her legend than anything that actually occurred in her lifetime, something which can affect Servants dramatically upon their summoning. Seriously, take a look at how Thomas Edison looks when he’s summoned, it’s so freaking ridiculous!

Regardless of her romantic issues, the fact remains that Kiyohime is one of the easiest of Berserkers to… Not necessarily control or command but rather she can and will listen to what you have to say and will plan and reason her way through a fight. Her main choice of attack being from at range via draconic fireballs from her fan, which are just as devastating as any physical blow from her fellow Berserkers, is mere icing on the cake.

This is not a sacrifice. Just prey.

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AVENGER

AvengerGorgonStage4
Real Name: Medusa
Titles: The Gorgon
Illustrator: Simosi
Featured In:
Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Yū Asakawa (Japanese)

Avengers, as one would rightfully assume by the title of their Class, are Servants whom embody the concept of vengeance in some form or another. The most well-known case was the Servant whose true potential was only realized upon it being slain and thus unleashing “All of Man’s Evils” into the Holy Grail, thus corrupting it for future wars to come, allowing for the summoning of arguably “evil” Servants and even corrupting some Servants into darker aspects of themselves known as Alters.

While one might assume this is the case for Medusa that is actually quite far from the truth and even from the atypical standard of Servants capable of being in multiple Classes. Most Servants who can be summoned in more than one Class generally reflect that Class via a very specific point in their life, oftentimes a span of a few years or even several decades.

For Medusa however, as an Avenger, she appears in the exact moment of transformation between a goddess of beauty and a monster, and thus why she is more commonly referred to as “The Gorgon” when summoned in this Class.

The Gorgon’s passive skills and abilities include such gems as “Demon of Mutation” or as it’s more commonly dubbed “Demonic Mutation.” It is a skill that is only achieved by heroes, or even gods, have transformed into a demonic creature. Use of this skill by a Servant emphasizes this fact to an insane degree, strengthen the Gorgon in ways that are absolutely impossible for a human body to ever achieve.

While not shown through gameplay in Fate Grand Order, I believe that utilizing this skill also further “degrades” the Gorgon into her more monstrous form and runs the additional risk of further alienation in her overall personality. While not exactly monstrous, it is stated outright that the Gorgon’s affection and even her love is not meant for kinship with humans as she has an entirely different standpoint.

Like her more humanoid forms, the Gorgon also possesses “Cybele the Mystic Eyes of Petrification” though it remains sealed by way of her own will, oftentimes in the form of a protective band over her eyes known as “Breaker Gorgon” or by a noticeably seal painted upon her brow. Being the most powerful variation of these eyes, it can be surmised that even Servants with high Mana stats can become petrified near instantly.

Her last named skill, “Scream of Awe” is a roar that arouses an instinctive awe in all living beings, sentient or otherwise. It will inflict such high levels of fear that it can almost be called a curse as even the hardiest of opponent’s defenses drop virtually to nothing.

A rather unique trait that the Gorgon possesses can be found in her blood that has two possible effects. Should her blood be spilled on the earth, notably in the sands of a desert, venomous serpents will spring forth from it. However, should her blood be willingly given, it can be used to create one of two things. An incredibly deadly poison for the living, or a medicine capable of reviving the recently dead.

The Gorgon’s Noble Phantasm is known as “Pandemonium Cetus: Forced Seal, Pandemonic Temple.” It is, essentially, the recreation of the moment when she renounced the last vestige of being a goddess and became the true “Gorgon monster.”

It is this creature that is immediately materialized in her place and all life within the designated territory is liquefied. Any humans caught within it are instantly killed and most Servants whom manage to survive do not do so without receiving some extreme damage.

Pandemonium_Cetus_FGO

Out of the Avengers revealed thus far, the Gorgon is the only one I would… perhaps not gladly but willingly call to my side to fight in a Holy Grail War, or any other major source of conflict. Aside from not being an “Alter” of another Servant, the Gorgon is one that does not leave the possibility of creating further damage should she perish and become a part of the Grail like another, more recognized Avenger.

True, should she die in a spectacularly bloody fashion —which admittedly is par for the course in most Fate conflicts— there’d be a whole lot of poisonous snakes to deal with but given that I’m facing someone, or something, capable of offing her in such a fashion, I’d likely have far bigger concerns to deal with.

That… and call me a sucker for tragic figures but Medusa’s story, in every version of her story that I read, she became a monster through the actions of the Greek gods either directly or indirectly, and in the Fate version in particular… hers is one of the darker tales.

If nothing else, I would have her at my side as a form of objection to those whom would make a monster out of her and show them, the world, and perhaps even the Gorgon herself that even monsters can still become heroes.

Another Autumn Series

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Apologies for another long hiatus folks, a combination of actual illness and fading summertime days kept me occupied but now, not only am I back but thanks to the discovery of a recent smartphone game, I also have a theme for the next several reviews!

As a few who’ve read my series of one-shots, From Across the Throne of Heroes, I am a major fan of the Fate series of Type-Moon. I say series because, as of this post, there have been visual novels, actual novels, video games, anime series, and now a smartphone game. The overall plot of the series, no matter its medium, revolves around the summoning of legendary figures from across myth and history as Servants to fight in a war to attain the Holy Grail, a magical device created for the sole purpose of granting the winner of wish with absolutely no rules or drawbacks.

Provided of course that the Grail itself has not been corrupted…

Of course, there’s far, FAR more to any one of the stories than just that but that is the basic gist. As to what I’ll be reviewing, I will be talking about my own favorite Servant for each of the major classes featured in the Fate series.

As always, there will be a few ground rules for me to adhere to. First Rule, I will not be “cheating” by picking multiple variations of the same Servant, particularly those whom have been “Altered.” Whatever Servant I decree as being the best in that Class will not be picked again because of similar, or greater, capabilities in another Class.

Second Rule, no “theme” Servants, specifically those whom were created for winter and summer holidays, amusing or… ahem, alluring many them might be.

Third Rule, I will not be covering singular Servant Classes like Shielder or specially crafted Servant Classes like Alter Ego and Moon Cancer

With that all said, I suppose then the best way to wrap up this review is to summarize the Servant Classes that I will be picking my favorites from? Be warned, this listing is NOT going to be the order I go in, just the order that they are commonly listed in for most Fate games.

Saber: Heroic Spirit of the Sword and one of the three Knight Classes. A jack-of-all-trades warrior. Agile and powerful in close quarters; extremely adept at swordsmanship. Arguably one of the most powerful Class of Servants

Archer: Heroic Spirit of the Bow and one of the three Knight Classes. Excellent scouts that excel in possessing powerful Noble Phantasms. Masters of long ranged warfare and the most independent of Servants.

Lancer: Heroic Spirit of the Lance and one of the three Knight Classes. Gifted with extreme agility and proficient in hit-and-run tactics as well as ranged melee weapons such as spears and lances.

Rider: Heroic Spirit of the Mount. Experts of the mount able to tame any beast, be it mythical or mechanical whose steeds are oftentimes their Noble Phantasms. On their own, an already deadly force but astride their mounts, they are a destructive force.

Caster: Heroic Spirit of Spells and Sorcery. Adept in magecraft, being one of the few able to use sorceries of the highest calibe. They can and have exploited the rules of the Holy Grail Wars to their advantage using magic lost to the ages.

Assassin: The Silent Killer and Heroic Spirit of Assassinations. Extremely skilled at covert, stealthy, and silent operations. Atypically the weakest in physical prowess but are the most difficult to pin down.

Berserker: The Mad Warrior and Heroic Spirit of Berserker Rage. Crazed warriors that have lost almost all traces of their sanity in exchange for great power. It takes a combination of extreme luck and a LOT of control to keep these Servants leashed and focused lest their rage gets the best of them.

Ruler: Virtuous warriors summoned by the Holy Grail itself, tasked with governing the rituals of the Grail Wars. Exceptionally rare to summon, save for Grail Wars that have more than the average seven Servants above.

Avenger: Vigilante and Heroic Spirit of Vengeance. Vindictive warriors that bears great hatred in the past, the embodiment of hatred itself. They are said to either come from or indirectly create the dark side of the Holy Grail.

Maid + Dragon equals…?

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Dragons Welcome

Directed By: Yasuhiro Takemoto
Written By:
Yuka Yamada
No. of Seasons: 1 (Currently)
No. of Episodes:
13 (Currently)
Production Company: Kyoto Animation
Licensed By: Crunchyroll
Original Release:
January 11 2017

Based on the manga series of the same name, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is yet another addition to the steadily rising trend of anime featuring not-quite-human characters, mainly girls, in an otherwise normal, that is to say non-fantastical, setting. However, contrary to those anime, most of which fall under either the harem or slice of life sub-genre, Dragon Maid is primarily a romantic-comedy series with most of both genres provided by our titular dragon maid, Tohru, though not quite in the way that you might think.

You see, one morning Miss Kobayashi, or simply Kobayashi as her first name has yet to be revealed, was getting ready for her office job and is greeted at the door by Tohru in her full dragon form before transforming into a demi-human maid. As it turns out, Kobayashi, in the midst of a drunken excursion into the mountains, not only discovered the newly arrived Tohru but had saved her from a holy sword stuck in Tohru’s back. Finding out that Tohru has no place to stay, the drunk Kobayashi invites Tohru to live at her apartment as her maid.

Contrary to how most anyone else would react, though I for one would like do several back flips of joy at having, however inadvertently, saved/befriended a dragon, Kobayashi does not immediately welcome Tohru into her home. By a mix of guilt and Tohru’s draconic abilities though more the former than the latter, Kobayashi accepts Tohru into her home.

Thus, shenanigans ensue.

See, while Tohru is understandably grateful to Kobayashi, she is also head over tail in love with her as well and has absolutely no trouble proclaiming as such at every available opportunity. What makes this anime distinct from others of its kind, at least in genre, is the fact that Kobayashi is the “straight man” insomuch that she acts like a normal person would in the face of Tohru’s affections. She does not become immediately flustered or even stand-offish. Rather, she comes off as having accepted Tohru’s love for her and while she never says so outright, there is some affection growing steadily in her heart as the episodes go by.

Of course, that’s just on the romantic side of things. Comedy however, oh man, where do I begin? I suppose the one thing that stands out the most glaringly. Tohru is a dragon. Yes, yes, I know, rather obvious but what isn’t so obvious, and oftentimes can be buried by comedic antics, is the fact that there is a huge cultural difference between her and Kobayashi.

Case in point, one of the common running gags in the show is Tohru constantly attempting to get Kobayashi to eat her tail, which regenerates almost instantly and appears to be a significant token of affection between Tohru’s particular breed of dragon.

Speaking of, Tohru is not the only dragon to appear in the series though there appear to be several laws that dragons, or at least those of Tohru’s “Chaos Faction” bar their presence. The first to arrive in the human world is Kanna Kamui who initially comes off as having searched for Tohru to bring her back home when in truth…

She was kicked out of their home world for her behavior by her parents and cannot get back on her own due, initially, to the lack of magical power and know-how. As it turns out, Kanna can actually draw more magical power by way of electricity. Kanna is something of a breakout star in the anime, popular among fans for being both ridiculously cute and cutely ridiculous.

Like Tohru, she too has something of a cultural clash insomuch that while Kanna is young by dragon standards, so much so that her human form resembles that of a young child fit for third grade, she is still much older than she appears and can be surprisingly devious when she wants to be. That doesn’t quite stop her from asking Tohru to set up a series of neon lights right outside the apartment door, and later an actual working chimney, to ensure that Santa Claus knows this is the residence of the “good girl Kanna-chan.”

Not going to lie, I nearly fell out my chair when I saw that from laughing so hard.

Of course, also like Tohru, there’s something of a cultural clash with Kanna. For example, wanting to go outside and play with Tohru, the two dragged Kobayashi along to a landscape far from any humans and proceeded to do just that. Play as dragons do by way of launching thunderbolts and fireballs that tore up most of the landscape before Kobayashi put her foot down and demanded the two play like a human would. Thus began the common game of “human” wherein the two over-exaggerate many of Kobayashi’s common complaints from work, namely her sore lower back.

Following on Kanna’s coattails by way of invitation from Tohru, and wanting to check up on her, are a pair of dragons of a more recognized renown. Fafnir and Quetzalcoatl, or Lucoa as she prefers. Like Tohru and Kanna, the two legendary dragons inadvertently end up drawn to the human world for two entirely different reasons.

For Lucoa, she was intending to go back home when she happened to feel a strong summoning spell taking place nearby, one that would unintentionally draw a very powerful, and nigh uncontrollable, demon if left alone so she answered the call before said eldritch abomination could. Unfortunately, the summoner, a young boy ironically named Shouta, does not believe that Lucoa is anything but a succubus attempting to tempt him into damnation.

Given that the supposed divine dragon’s every attempt to remedy this leads to further misunderstandings (and plenty of fanservice), I can see the young lad’s point though that doesn’t quite stop him from forcing her to leave his house. Her common running gag is that she is commonly “arrested” for her choice of attire, and dragged away in order to change into something more appropriate.

… I never thought I’d see the day when an anime outright pokes fun at fanservice but there you have it.

What makes it really funny to behold though is the fact that Lucoa literally doesn’t realize what she’s doing and has, more often than not, been totally oblivious to the fact that her lack of personal space when dealing with Shouta, namely getting him up close and personal with her, ahem, assets, is what sets the poor boy running for the hills whilst proclaiming her a bad, bad demon.

As for Fafnir, oh now his is an interesting story. Much like the legends portray him, Fafnir is cold and often aloof and completely disinterested in the world around him and was as such until his gaze happened to be drawn that drew his interest. Video games. Yep, no joke, whilst attending a get-together at Kobayashi’s apartment, Fafnir was drawn in by a game that Kobayashi’s co-worker/friend/fellow maid/butler enthusiast Makoto Takiya was playing.

Since then, Fafnir has taken residence with Makoto and has become something of a gaming obsessed otaku, spending many long hours of the night playing MMORPGs and other games when not taking minor “breaks.” A common running gag with him is how quickly he switches between an outright dangerous dragon to an extremely nerdy otaku, oftentimes in the same breath.

Heck, one afternoon whilst playing a game at Kobayashi’s apartment, Kanna returned home with her friend and proclaimed that the two were now involved in a duel. Kobayashi’s reaction was confusion, Tohru’s a proud proclamation of assistance, whilst Fafnir stated he’d kill their opponents outright all by himself. Death threat aside, one must remember that Kanna is a child in dragon years so Fafnir’s reaction, while still over the top, is understandably justified considering any such duel that took place in their world would result in either extreme bodily harm or death.

Last, but not least, is my own favorite dragon Elma who… Y’know what? I’ll save her for a review all on her own. Believe me, I’ve got a lot to gush–SAY! I’ve got a lot to say about this one.

Similarly to most other slice of life anime, each episode has a “theme” going for it such as Kanna getting ready for her first day of school, a day spent at the beach, and even a school sports festival. What is particularly funny, and hilariously meta, is that like most anime, each episode of Dragon Maid has two titles with the secondary one oftentimes being a crack at what the episode is about. For example using the same episodes I mentioned…

Episode 04: Kanna Goes to School! (Not That She Needs To), Episode 07: Summer’s Staples! (The Fanservice Episode, Frankly), and Episode 09: Sports Festival! (There’s No Twist or Anything).

While there is something of a progressing story in the anime, there isn’t much in the way of an actual plot as most slice of life anime are wont to do. That’s not to say that there isn’t a steady progression but rather that there isn’t some great force of evil to overcome or some plot-twist waiting to be unveiled. This is an anime that features a dragon being a maid to a woman that saved her life and whom she has fallen head over tail for. That’s really all there is to it.

Kobayashi & Tohru